Is Trump Trying to Destroy American Democracy?
With President Trump’s actions internally and in foreign affairs, it appears as if he is trying to destroy America’s democracy, perhaps hoping to institute an autocratic regime similar to those he openly admires, particularly Russia. His conduct during the one and a half years of his presidency can only be interpreted in two ways. One is that his behavior is the result of ignorance and a lack of understanding about a president’s role and how the world perceives every action of his. If his exploits and supposed accomplishments are merely due to lack of knowledge and incompetence, at least it means he is not consciously working to eradicate America’s democracy. It is happening simply because he is incapable of running the United States with all its complexities and constitutional constraints.
As bad as it would be to have an incompetent president, the alternative is much worse. Though it has not transpired, if he were incompetent, at some point he might develop insight about his inability to function adequately and start listening to some of his advisers and perhaps even read some of the briefings on various important subjects that are prepared for him. The alternative is that his actions are purposeful and that he is trying to destroy America’s liberal democracy and that of other democratic nations at the bidding of some foreign leader or American plutocrats. Many members of America’s 0.1 percent would be happy to see an autocratic regime in place that they were able to influence, shrinking government, reducing taxes and regulations, dramatically cutting government spending and mechanisms of social support for the lower and middle classes.
However, it is more likely that Trump’s conduct is being controlled by a foreign power that sees liberal democracy as its adversary and would like to see democratic nations cease to exist or be transformed into autocracies. The only nations potentially able to effect these changes would be Russia or China. The latter seems to be totally immersed in developing its economy under Xi and does not yet have the military power to confront the United States globally. Russia, however, has the military might and the cyber-specialists to back up any covert actions it might take. And it would be particularly easy for Russia and Putin to control President Trump and get him to do their bidding if they had some sexually compromising material on him or financial data, both of which they could use to blackmail him.
When we look at Trump’s behavior from his early candidacy until the present, he has not had one unkind word to say about Putin, the leader of our main adversary who had grabbed the Crimea, instituted a low level war in the Ukraine, shot down a civilian plane killing hundreds of innocent people, assassinated a number of Russians at home and in foreign lands who were opposed to Putin, interposed the Russian military in the Syrian civil war to keep a ruthless dictator in power, interfered in the 2016 American presidential elections and perhaps others, and is still meddling in American politics. It appears that the Russian scenario makes the most sense and we know that U.S. intelligence has caught them at work and indicted some of the main actors.
Trump’s actions in just the last week suggest that he is in thrall to Vladimir Putin and is doing his bidding. Going out of his way to sew discord in NATO, Trump challenged Merkel and Germany for not spending enough money on its military, then followed this diatribe by criticizing all other members of NATO for insufficient spending. He then flew to England where he ambushed Prime Minister May for her handling of Brexit and not following his recommendations on how to handle this problem. He subsequently reversed himself and praised May when he met with her.
But his final performance on his European travels were the most devastating for Americans. On the world stage, he favored Putin’s comments that Russia had not meddled in American elections over those of his own intelligence agencies. And all of Putin’s nefarious actions in the Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, murdering opponents, in addition to his interference in our elections were ignored by Trump. Instead of studying the briefing papers given to him before his meeting with Putin, Trump played two rounds of golf on his course in Scotland, believing that knowledge of Putin’s machinations were unimportant.
So we wonder, is Trump Putin’s puppet which seems most likely; is he in the White House working for the American oligarchs; or is he just an ignorant, incompetent guy who happens to be America’s president?