Point Park Globe

Donald Trump has crossed too many lines – no more

Student asks if Donald Trump has finally become a dictator after only two years

Written By Amanda Andrews, For The Globe

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A conversation about the nation and the current presidency, in most political
arenas, is bound to be contentious. Supporters and critics alike can agree that Trump has not been abiding by
several previous precedents established by his predecessors and has set up a few of his own in the nearly two years since he first took office. Recent actions taken by the president have caused many campaigns to evaluate his qualifications, effectiveness and responsibilities to the American public and
international community. This has raised a more radical question in the most liberal circles: has Donald Trump become a dictator?

Donald Trump has been compared to several dictators since his presidential campaign first began, and not without some due justification. His hard-line stance against immigration as well as many of his disparaging remarks on the Latin and Muslim populations with the added “Make America Great Again” slogan made for a clear nationalist, populist cry for big change in government leadership, a platform which was criticized to be eerily similar to Adolf Hitler’s
proposed agenda when he ran for the Chancellor of Germany in 1932.

Not helping matters with that argument, Trump found a strong base in rising Neo-Nazi or alt-right movements in the United States and has struggled on multiple occasions to condemn their hate-motivated agendas, most notably and controversially in the case of the Charlottesville protests
in 2017.

In the midst of his campaign, he unapologetically quoted Mussolini. In that same vein, in February of last year, he tweeted that a multitude of news publications were “the enemy of the people,” the exact phrase used to label political dissidents and opponents by Stalin and Mao, two of the most prominent dictators of the 20th
century.

How can a dictator be defined and can they even exist in the 21st century as they did in the past? Do Donald Trump’s actions live up to his inflammatory rhetoric? Could a standing president who has been elected into office abuse his powers and cast away
democracy?

Dictators most certainly exist across the world in very key positions of authority. While many countries adopted a democracy as their form of government in the later half of the 20th century, many since the beginning of the 21st century have started the shift and have even made the transition to what would be described as a dictatorship.

There is no better example than in Russia where Vladimir Putin, through scrupulous means, has held power since 2000 and with it has censored independent media and vastly expanded military conquests to intimidate neighboring countries. It is worth noting that Trump has repeatedly complimented Putin and his leadership over the years.

Although holding the status of a dictator requires that person to follow particular steps in securing wholly untouchable power. The first step that most historians cite is the demoralization and the subsequent suppression of independent, critical media. That area is why most journalists have raised alarm over Trump’s fake news campaign, labeling mass media as the enemy of the people.

It appears though that Trump has only completed a half job on this, as I am allowed to write an opinion such as this, critically analyzing his potential performance as a dictator. More importantly, because the independent media that Trump most despises have not been forcibly taken down in any sense since his election nor has the implementation of a state media company been put into operation.

The second step is two-fold: identify so-called public enemies within the citizen body, typically ethnic or religious groups, and promise huge reform to the current system of government. In this way, Trump’s presidential campaign fulfilled those requirements; however, he has struggled to make good on all his plans for government reform due to the obstacles of intense media coverage, formal investigation probes, a mismanaged administration and his own incompetence.

The closest he has been is with his downright inhumane plan to separate families at the border, sending children to detention centers and deporting asylum seekers and illegal immigrants, even if that meant permanently separating parents from their children.

ICE’s actions based on Trump’s orders were so authoritarian in nature that thousands of protests sprang up across the nation during the summer, including here in Pittsburgh. Added with the recent news that Trump authorized the transfer of $10 million from FEMA’s budget to the ICE, it is not unfair to fear the dangerous potential of what the next two years will bring.     

Ultimately, Trump as a former CEO immensely respects the powers of authoritarian leaders that Putin or Kim Jong Un wield and intensely desires to replicate it; however, while he may be in charge of arguably the most dominant nation in the world, the United States has perhaps the most notable history of protecting individual liberties and the free interest of the general public.

Besides the contemporary factors that limit him, the actual foundation of this particular government and its reputation as a protector of rights and free will cannot be irrevocably manipulated to a system of a dictatorship, or at the very least, not as long as President Donald Trump remains in office.

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