Why This Historian Says a Trump Coup Is ‘Pretty Much Inevitable’
Trump‘s impeachment is almost inevitable at this point. There is just too much evidence that he has violated the constitution that he can continue to be president. It’s just a matter of time before his own party completely turns on him. But the question on a lot of peoples’ minds is “will he go easily?” Timothy Snyder, a historian and author of On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From The Twentieth Century, says “it’s pretty much inevitable” in an interview with Salon. So how will he do it, and what can we do to stop it?
Trump is a fascist
Snyder firmly contends that Trump is a Fascist, but it’s hard for Americans to accept that because we’ve had a certain belief about governmental structure for so long. “… we just assume everybody is a friendly democratic parliamentarian pluralist until proven otherwise,” Snyder tells Salon. Trump would have to march out and explain in the simplest of English that he was a Fascist to his supporters, but even then he would have people who would claim that he’s being hyperbolic.
The reason Snyder says that Trump is Fascist is the way he operates in his worldview. He may be doing it without even knowing it, but he uses all the fascistic approaches. What fascists have done in the past is to tell people to worry about the truth and what is real, only worry about our “mystical unities and direct connections between the mystical leader and the people.” This is only echoed by his constant denial of the truth and his undermining of the press.
Next: Trump will use three approaches to undermine democracy.
John Oliver showed us how he will undermine democracy
In an episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Oliver showcased three tools in which Trump will undermine democracy; Delegitimizing the media, “Whataboutism,” and trolling. He consistently calls any news about him that is negative “fake news.” If that doesn’t work, he will shift blame to someone or something else by saying, “What about this?” He also constantly and intentionally tries to anger liberals. All those tactics undercut political norms and create a whole new dynamic that people are starting to emulate in conservative politics.
Next: Trump will use those tools to consolidate power
Trump will consolidate his power
Trump has already, subversively, begun consolidating his power. He refuses to acknowledge that the Judiciary has the authority to question him. Members of his staff have even echoed that his “power should not be questioned.” He also says he wants to get rid of the Senate filibuster because “the filibuster concept is not a good concept to start off with” and told Mitch McConnell to use the nuclear option in the confirmation of Niel Gorsuch. Trump has also threatened to obstruct courts that have ruled against him and even threatened to break up the 9th circuit. The 9th circuit is where most of the rulings against him have originated.
Next: All these subtle moves may culminate in a big event.
In pre-Nazi-controlled Germany, Hitler was just a political figure. He wielded power, but he was never in a position to be Fuhrer. After years of undermining the press, casting doubt on the political system in the country, and creating the “German Identity” of the time, he had to have an event that would rally the remainder of the country behind him. That’s when the Reichstag fire occurred. This gave him the legitimacy to be the ruler of the people because everything he said was true.
It’s not inconceivable that the Trump administration will try to capitalize on a similar event. After all, only he could have prevented this if the “fake news” media wasn’t so unfair, and the courts and Congress didn’t obstruct him from doing his job as president.
Next: Here’s why Trump will try to capitalize on an event like that
Trump is unprecedentedly unpopular
Trump is, arguably, the most unpopular president in history. Even if you go by a conservative poll, his numbers are still sitting in the low 40’s. The Trump administration and even the GOP would benefit greatly from a Reichstag or 9/11 event because they could prey on people’s political fears. That’s exactly what the Nazi party and Third Reich did in Germany at the time. If you look at a comparison of approval ratings for past presidents, George W. Bush’s approval ratings jumped almost 35 points following 9/11, for example.
Next: How long will it take him to succeed?
Trump could succeed in as little as a year
Snyder notes in his interview with Salon that Trump could succeed in his goal in anywhere from one to three years. “Nobody can be sure how long this particular regime change with Trump will take, but there is a clock, and the clock really is ticking. It’s three years on the outside, but in more likelihood something like a year,” says Snyder.
Next: What can you do to help prevent an overthrow of our democracy?
Trump and his administration are relying on his constituents to blindly follow them and they already do. Snyder says that you should “orient yourself against the general drift of things” and don’t “obey in advance.” Snyder believes that if you can do that, then you can do all the other things that need to be done, like supporting government and social institutions.
The biggest fear is when preventing that change relies more on the people governing than the people governed. If you get the chance, Snyders book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From The Twentieth Century outlines all the ways that you can resist as well.
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