[OPINION] Wannabe dictators?

HAS President Donald Trump been fantasizing about becoming a dictator like his idol Russia’s Vladimir Putin and his favorite presidents-for-life China’s Xi Jingping and North Korea’s Kim Jung Un? In History News Network, author John C. Waugh, wrote an article with the eyebrow-raising title, “Trump – A Wannabe Dictator in Training.”

“In a view shared by many, it is easy to believe that what Donald Trump really wants is not to be president of the country, but dictator of it. Indeed, he has suggested how good it might be for him to enjoy a third term, perhaps more, even though the Constitution forcefully forbids it.

“In a Father’s Day tweet he fantasized over the possibility, suggesting the public might ‘demand’ that he serve a third term. The [good news], he wrote, ‘is that at the end of six years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT)…’

“After Chinese president Xi Jingping abolished term limits in his own country, Trump said he liked the sound of that. ‘President for life. No, he’s great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have (to) give that a shot some day.’ Just joking? It is not all that laughable.” [The quotes in these two paragraphs are from an article by Gabrielle Bruney in Esquire, July 16, 2019. They have also appeared in the New York Times and Washington Post.]

Will Trump be able to pull it off? It is doubtful – not in the U.S. – but it won’t be for lack of trying. Wannabe Dictator Trump (a term coined by website Daily Sound and Fury) has threatened to revoke the licenses of broadcast networks that are airing unflattering commercials. Manila media should find that threat familiar. And in another move reminiscent of the Philippines, Trump recently sent federal troops to suppress protests in Portland, Oregon.

Trump has also given some unsubtle hints, such as suggesting that the Constitutionally- mandated presidential election on November 3 this year should be delayed, ostensibly to foil an unfounded “plot” by the Democrats to “steal the election.”  In an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, Trump also said he would not readily accept his defeat, assuming that were to happen, until he had confirmed the legitimacy of the voting.

Of course, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put it very bluntly in a press statement: “Trump will be fumigated out” if he refuses to leave the White House after he loses.

Yes. Fumigated, like getting rid of a cockroach.

Fortunately, the U.S. is not a banana republic or a Communist state like Russia, China or North Korea. And even in the unlikely event that a wannabe dictator succeeds in getting all the services of the U.S. armed forces behind him, he would have to contend with the 50 states of the union, each of which has a degree of sovereignty, each with its own Supreme Court, Legislature, national guards, and the equivalent of a president, the state governor.
Waugh had more to say about this.

“So what does a wannabe dictator who wants to give that a shot some day have to do day-by-day to reach his miserable goal? And how is Trump measuring up? It is not an easy jump from democracy to dictatorship in our country. There is that dratted Constitution in the way. There are laws to be violated. There are critics, opponents, Democrats, immigrants, and the unfaithful to be purged. There is the critical mainstream media to be done away with. There are many lies to be told. It is hard, nasty work and Trump is fast running out of time.

“A dictator must as soon as possible, by any means, shut down the media or control it. No dictatorship can exist in the presence of a free press. So far Trump has only been able to call the media names – ‘the fake news media,’ ‘the enemy of the people,’ ‘the opposition party’….

“He is particularly incensed by the Washington Post and the New York Times, both of them highly critical of him. He has said that in the event that the public did demand that he stay, ‘both of these horrible papers will quickly go out of business & be forever gone!’

“A dictator must be an avid hater of some minority group and wanting to purge it. Trump hates Muslims. He is not too crazy about blacks and Hispanics either. But there are now many of them, a very tall purging job. On the other side of this coin, Trump seems in no mind to purge white supremacists, who love him as one of their own.

“A dictator must tell lies, lots of lies. Trump is far and away the champion liar in presidential history. It is said by news outlets who keep track of such things, that Trump averages about six lies per day.”

Indeed, a dictatorial caper would be difficult to pull off in the U.S. But this could be easier to do in the Philippines – that is, assuming that President Rodrigo Duterte is inclined to become a dictator.

Is he?

From his recent actions and statements, Duterte may already be acting like one. He has caused the shutdown, displacement and arrest of political and media critics, including a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. And the police and military have been accused of extra-judicial killings.

Duterte once said that even if he “resigned” from the presidency, Vice-President Leni Robredo could not expect to automatically assume the position as mandated by the Constitution – because the police and the military would have to “find the right successor.”

Perhaps, Duterte has been watching too many movies about Latin American banana republics, where military strongmen grabbed power.

Recently, Duterte dared the people at large to start a “revolution.” According to him, that would give him an excuse to mount a “counter-revolution” and declare a “revolutionary government.”

It’s not far-fetched that some quarters in the military and police will support Duterte if he were to do this. He may also be able to count on the support of a rubber-stamp Congress and the courts.

But neither is it far-fetched to believe that there are enough patriotic and idealistic military and police officers who will rally behind a civil society resistance to an outright attempt by Duterte to name himself a president-for-life, the way Putin and Xi Jingping did.

Besides, Duterte will also have to contend with those who believe that they also deserve their turn at wielding presidential power.

What is likely to happen is that Duterte will want a surrogate to assume the presidency when his term expires. But then, even the most loyal surrogate, once that person tastes power, will want even more of it.

British historian Lord Acton put it aptly: “Power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

In other words, the problem confronting a wannabe dictator is that there are others who want to become dictators, too.  (gregmacabenta@hotmail.com)

1 Comment
  1. Where do you get your information about President Trump from? Mainstream media sources that have demonstrated an outright hostility to him since he won the 2016 election? That’s sounds about right. Then, combine your misinformation with your own opinions and this is what readers get! Trump isn’t a dictator and doesn’t ‘wanna be’ one either. In case you forgot, he’s already a BILLIONAIRE and left behind a billion dollar business empire to be President and get our country back in the right direction! He didn’t need to become president to be successful. He has been successful for decades. Look back though at Democrat presidents and they needed to get into government office to be successful. Obama was nothing before he became President, a junior senator who did nothing until he became president. He was a ‘community organizer’ (another name for out-of-work troublemaker) and never in his life held a private sector job outside of academia and doesn’t know the first thing about starting a business, hiring/firing, or providing jobs for people. Clintons, Bill and Hillary, also got into government to enrich themselves and didn’t start raking in the millions until after Bill left office! Again, they don’t know squat about business or providing jobs for people, their motivation has only ever been to grow their bank accounts at the expense of everyone else. By contrast, Trump hasn’t taken a penny from his salary as President and donates 100% of it!

    As for Trump’s suggestions of third, fourth, and more terms, its called ‘trolling’. He said it because he knew it would throw liberals into a frothing-at-the-mouth tizzy. And they did. And they still do. Every time! He fights back. He calls the “Press” (I use quotes because what they do isn’t journalism, its 24/7 character assassination) what he calls them and anyone else who verbally attacks him. Most Republicans don’t fight back, don’t stand up against the attacks and the pressure. Trump does and they can’t handle it.

    He’s done nothing but obey the law and had his administration obey the law too. He complied with the fraudulent Mueller probe, and had his entire administration comply with it and not once hid behind ‘executive privilege’, provided more documentation and witnesses than any Democrat administration (you know, unlike Hillary who destroyed subpoenaed government property and erased 30,000+ emails). He also complied with the laughable Congressional impeachment process. “Wanna-be dictators” would have hid behind ‘executive privilege’ and/or taken action against those acting against him. Trump didn’t. He followed the law, protected his own rights and protected the office of the President from gross Congressional over-reach.

    Yes, Trump did send troops to Portland, however, your reason why is not accurate or honest. It wasn’t to suppress protests. What’s happening in Portland isn’t protests, its rioting. When property is being destroyed and/or people being hurt/killed, its not a protest. He didn’t even send them there to suppress the riots. He sent them explicitly to protect the federal courthouse in Portland that has been under siege. That’s it. And that’s all they did. So, stop lying to your readers. I’m sure many of them know better anyway but its just sad to see you so blatantly misrepresent what is going on in the US.

    Again, Trump’s suggestion about delaying the election–trolling. And you and liberals all across the country fell for it. Mail-In voting, which is vastly different from voting via Absentee Ballot, is rife with corruption, fraud and waste. In just about every state and city where its been done, mass quantities of ballots have been invalidated for any variety of reasons, not the least of which include–ballots sent to people that no longer live at that address, city or state; sent to people who are dead; sent to pets of people, sent to people who cannot legally vote (minors, felons, etc.), and more! This past weekend, there have been article after article of the failures and problems with voting in numerous states across this country. Voting by mail-in is fraud and corruption waiting to happen, and the only people pushing so hard for mail-in ballots are Democrats. Not a single Republican. Of course, the Chinese Virus (I call it that because its a virus that came from China) is used as an excuse by Democrats to not have to go to polls, but if people can wear their masks and go to grocery stores, Walmarts, banks, etc., and do that safely, then they can go to a polling place and vote just as safely!

    Another mistake you made was your quote by Speaker Pelosi–and its as low brow and crude as a lot of other things she says. Her exact words were, “…It has nothing to do with if a certain occupant of the White House doesn’t feel like moving and has to be fumigated out of there — because the presidency is the presidency….” And yet, to go by your quote, you make it seem like Pelosi will go to the White House with a can of Raid trying to spray him til he runs out the back door!

    Another point, Trump is President. Another title is Commander-In-Chief. Of our military. He commands, at all times, ALL branches of the US military. They are all already ‘behind him’ as you say. And states have some independent authority, but when it comes to law, federal law trumps (pun intended) state law. And the US Supreme Court trumps the Supreme Courts of every state too. Every time.

    So, “Trump hates Muslims”, huh? Based on what exactly? Killing Suleimani? An Iranian terrorist in charge of the military of a terrorist state (Iran). Killing Al-Baghdadi–the leader of ISIS? And the next guy to take his place? Sorry, but killing terrorists isn’t the same as hating Muslims. Or maybe you meant because of his “travel ban”, or as liberals say, “Muslim ban”. Its not a ban on Muslims its a ban on travel from countries that sponsor, harbor or allow passage through for terrorist extremists that just happen to be countries with predominant Muslim populations.

    And then, “not too crazy about blacks and Hispanics either”? Really?! Trump has done more for blacks and Hispanics than any other president, including Obama! Record low unemployment rates for blacks; for Hispanics; for Asians; for Women, and more! Not just good unemployment rates, but record setting! Blacks and Hispanics, prior to the Chinese Virus, enjoyed better wages, better jobs, better opportunities and bigger bank accounts than at any other time in the past 50+ years! If what you said was true, why did he invite the CEO of Goya Foods (a Hispanic man) to speak at a White House event? Why would he have Dr. Ben Carson (a black man) in a top post in his administration? There’s far more examples of him supporting and empowering blacks and Hispanics than you can come up with to show the opposite. What you wrote here may be your opinion but its also just a flat-out lie!

    One last thing, how do you expect him to ‘purge’ white supremacists? In the same paragraph, you mention a religion (Muslims) and you mention race (blacks and Hispanics), but white supremacy is a ideology with no outward, tell-tale signs of membership in that belief. How exactly is he supposed to (find and then) purge them without knowing who they are? And even if he did know, how would you expect him to ‘purge’ them? Its not a crime to be a white supremacist anymore than it is to be a black supremacist or any other kind. You also vaguely seem to suggest that he is trying to purge Muslims, blacks and Hispanics (which couldn’t be further from the truth) by mentioning his failure to purge white supremacists in the same paragraph–something that is as gross and low-brow as anything Pelosi would say about Trump, but seems right at home with your anti-Trump, fact-less, emotion based opinion.

    One more last thing, your quote of Lord Acton, like much of your article, is incorrect. The correct quote is, “…power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” You were close, but wrong is still wrong. And while Lord Acton is being quoted, I’ve a couple of quotes of his that are just as relevant.

    “Socialism means slavery.” As in the socialist policies of Bernie Sanders and AOC that Joe Biden wants to put in place if he wins the election. It doesn’t mean slavery and chains on day 1, but once their policies are in place and any means to oppose them are removed (remember, they want to get rid of the police AND take away your guns), that’s when the slavery starts and the chains get shackled to you!

    “The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.” This is EXACTLY what the Democrats are wanting to do with mail-in voting–winning the election by fraud! Its a good thing Trump isn’t willing to concede until his loss can be confirmed and verified. By pushing for mail-in voting, Democrats want to prevent Trump from being able to declare victory and reelection on the night of Nov. 3, while at the same time, they want to be able to proclaim Biden the winner, even if it can’t be proven immediately so they can have Trump admit defeat–even if it can’t be proven immediately.

    And now for my opinion:
    Its a good thing the US is a Constitutional Republic, but that’s something the Dems want to change too, and if they get the chance, then the US will see a tyranny of the party. Parts of the US already are able to see Democrat tyranny–look at states run with Democrat governors; California, New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Illinois, Michigan, all run by Dems with draconian laws and ‘mandates’ usurping the constitutional rights of the people and if the Dems win in November, that kind of tyranny spreads to the remaining states! Neither the federal nor the state governments have the authority to force people to wear or dress a certain way (masks, face shields, etc.) and yet Dems are forcing it and bringing the full power of their state down on people that refuse or try to stand up for their rights. Only a fraction of cases get highlighted, like the barber in Michigan that refused to close his shop, or the churches in California that also refused to close, but so many other instances are not known because the liberal media is complicit in this Dem tyranny.

    Church is important to Filipinos, whether it is the Catholic church, Iglesia ni Cristo, or many others. So, its kind of puzzling to me why there are so many Filipinos that support Dem politicians who are so anti-church. Governor Newsom’s rules on church services have nothing to do with the Chinese Virus and if ANY business can be open and serve dozens or hundreds of customers each day and do it safely, then churches can too! Its the same in my state of Nevada with governor Sisolak. There is no reason for Democrat governors and politicians to close or restrict churches except for being able to exert power and control over people, and there is no reason for Filipinos, or anyone else, to be supporting these governors and politicians that want to keep people out of church and away from God and fellowship with others in their church! And if these people are trying to keep you from attending church and trying to get God out of your lives, there is no reason at all to support them no matter what any of their other policies may be! This includes voting for Joe Biden. He says he is Catholic, but his actions say otherwise. He is for abortion. Right up until birth, he thinks that its ok to kill babies! Going right along with Obama, he thinks that everyone should be forced to pay for abortions too! That it should be funded by taxpayers. That churches, especially those that oppose abortion, should be forced to pay for abortions and for drugs that induce abortions or prevent conception.

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