Tuesday, February 19, 2019


At the new anti-Trump conservative site The Bulwark, Christian Vanderbrouk wonders whether President Trump will ultimately be condemned by his biggest fans for not being sufficiently authoritarian.

Vanderbrouk writes about the emergency declaration:
While Trump may have stumbled upon his declaration as last resort, for his supporters, the “state of emergency” is an organizing principle. And if his presidency ends in failure and disgrace, his former supporters will likely blame him for lacking the fortitude to extend the logic of emergency to its authoritarian conclusion.
Trump made his emergency declaration in defiance of congressional Democrats and now intends to watch its fate play out in the courts, but some of his fans are impatient for more. As Vanderbrouk writes,
Fox Business host Lou Dobbs, who boasts 1.9 million Twitter followers and the attentive ear of the president, channeled the spirit of Grand Moff Tarkin in his plea for Trump to stamp out his congressional opposition. “I really believe that the way forward here is for him to declare a national emergency, and simply sweep aside the recalcitrant left in this country. They have — they have obstructed, resisted, and subverted for far too long,” Dobbs editorialized before a national audience.
And then there are these guys:
... even now some on the right are calling on [Trump] to forge ahead in defiance of a negative court ruling. Josh Hammer, a former federal law clerk, wrote last month that “It Is Past Time For Trump To Openly Defy A Federal Court.” Others like White House aide Stephen Miller and failed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore have decried what they call “judicial supremacy,” which is another way of describing precedent-setting judicial review.
But as I regularly point out, Trump doesn't seem prepared to engage in this level of defiance. He's not making moves to dissolve Congress. He's not rejecting the notion that federal court decisions are binding on him.

So far, his base is okay with that. I think that's because he attacks his enemies in a way that's brimming with self-confidence and is so entertaining to base voters that they believe (a) he'll win on everything eventually and (b) it's a great ride until he does. They're not demanding true authoritarianism of him.

Vanderbrouk thinks this might not last much longer:
Expectations for deliverance have been raised, but met with dashed hopes and despair. Into the breach could be a greater yearning for a sovereign who will slip the bonds of the Founders’ constraints and rescue the nation by whatever means necessary.

And as the president’s political credit rating approaches junk status, it will be important to distinguish between Donald Trump, disgraced charlatan, and Trumpism, the movement that hungers for a strongman and now reserves judgment on his fitness for the role.
I think the Trumpist movement will give Trump a pass on his failure to bring forth the MAGA utopia at least up until he's about to leave office, and maybe afterward -- he's just so personally inspirational to the deplorables that they'll continue to assume any failings on his part are the result of stabs in the back by their enemies.

But the next Trumpist leader won't have Trump's reality TV and pro wrestling trash talk skills. The next one will have to deliver. And it's quite likely that the next one will know how to deliver. He or she will understand how to seize authoritarian power, and will eagerly do what Dobbs and Hammer and Miller now want.

But for now we have Trump, who's such a rock star in the eyes of his base that he gets away with not being the great dictator.

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