Maybe someone should tell President Trump. Because in his first few weeks in office, Trump and his administration have acted on policy like some sort of a wannabe action hero. Just say a few tough guy words here and there and sign some executive orders without any thought into how they were crafted or what their consequences might be. This is what dictators do and while often detrimental to their people, governance by fiat can appear to be more successful because dictatorships have no strong institutional barriers to stop them. But not so in America. And the Trump administration is quickly finding out that this despot-like style of governance will get you nowhere fast while earning you a lot of grief from the public as well as a quick and well- deserved slap from the court system, which is likely to only get stronger if you attempt to marginalize it, and by extension, America’s cherished system of checks and balances.
It is not surprising that President Trump has attempted to govern this way because it is increasingly clear that he sees little wrong with dictatorship, and judging by his rhetoric, has little time for freedom. Like most dictators, he has no patience for criticism of the military and law enforcement or initiatives that would curtail their powers, even if such initiatives are supportive of freedom and the Constitution. Almost all dictators cozy up to the branches of government that allow the legitimate use of violence because they have the force to carry out orders and keep them in power (or remove them from it, as the case maybe, although there is a reason that our founders gave us a 2nd. Amendment, and contrary to what the NRA thinks, it wasn’t for the right to carry a loaded gun into a nightclub.) When it comes to dissent, especially by whistleblowers exposing violations of our Constitution and principles, President Trump has been explicit: these people are traitors deserving of death. Trump shows admiration for the governments of Russia, Egypt and the Philippines, all states that have little respect for the rule of law, have powerful central authorities, are ruthless with dissent and have a strong security apparatus. There is nothing wrong, by the way, with having working relations with these states; they are just not governments one would want to emulate.
The fact that President Trump places security and loyalty to the state far above freedom becomes clearer by the day. There is no balance for him.
And that is Trump’s problem right now and maybe his road to a complete loss of credibility and ability to get things done. America’s strong institutions and general public distaste for such a style of governance will quickly sideline Trump’s administration into irrelevance if it does not understand that in America, we have institutions and a populace that despite its polarized views, still believes that a system of governance that provides us with freedom is better than not. Additionally, if he is not careful, his administration may not just be in danger of irrelevance, but also legal removal from power.
Finally, Donald Trump had some grand ideas in his run to the presidency, ideas that got him elected, not only by a committed group of radicals, whose commitment to freedom is dubious, and whose goals might be more aligned with the satisfaction of watching a Muslim cry than actually making things better, but also by ordinary Americans, who despite Trump’s silly rhetoric on some issues, voted for him anyway because they rightfully believed that America was increasingly becoming a victim of bureaucratic inertia and could no longer achieve its dreams. These are ideas like improving America’s infrastructure, improving our consistently failing public education, reforming the tax code so that it is less complicated and fairer, as well as keeping America out of dumb foreign wars driven by the fantasies of a few elite “experts” that sap our blood and treasure. But none of those ideas will come to fruition if President Trump and his administration do not quickly get with the program and start governing from a place of freedom and true American character, instead of doing their best “leader of the Fatherland “impression.