By State Representative, Leon D. Young
Last week the nation observed the 242nd anniversary of the founding of this nation. America has long prided itself as the sterling example of a free and robust Democracy. A democracy is a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system. The United States and Canada are usually thought to be the standard-bearers of this unique style of government.
However, in today’s highly-polarized political climate, compounded further by the current occupant of the White House, there is much that every thinking American should be gravely concerned about. To illustrate this point, Donald Trump is leading a brazen political campaign to discredit Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor, and his Russia investigation. In Trump’s telling, the special counsel’s investigation was illegitimate from the start, the product of partisan bureaucrats hell-bent on nullifying his election.
But this political strategy goes even further, Trump has assembled a team of legal minions who have asserted increasingly broad claims of presidential impunity. These lawyers have articulated an almost boundless view of Executive authority, arguing that he (Trump) cannot be compelled to testify and cannot have obstructed justice because he has control over all federal investigations. Trump’s total disregard for the Constitution is again evident in his June 4 tweet in which he claims “absolute power” to pardon himself. (An idea in direct conflict with the centuries-old principle of British and American law that no one can be a judge in his own case.)
Here’s a ten-point “dictator’s checklist” that most Americans should find extremely troubling as it relates to the current resident of the White House. You’re a dictator if:
1. You’re a narcissist who puts his name on buildings.
2. You appoint family members to positions of power.
3. You hold political rallies before crowds of adoring followers.
4. You hate the press and use your own propaganda outlet (Fox News).
5. You use your office for personal financial gain.
6. You align with other dictators and strongmen (in Russia, North Korea, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and the Philippines).
7. You scapegoat minorities as the cause of the country’s problems.
8. You lie so frequently that people can’t tell what the truth is anymore.
9. You hold military parades with missiles, tanks and fighter jets.
10. You wear an unearned military costume with plenty of braid, stars, and medals.
Granted Trump has not adopted the tenth point on this dictator’s checklist, yet, but the other nine indicators are a different story. It’s safe to say that Donald Trump was ill-equipped to be president. But, once assuming this lofty perch, he may now harbor thoughts of becoming a dictator or king and signifying an end to American democracy.