Could Donald Trump stage a constitutional coup and derail what remains of America's democracy?
That's an idea that's been floated from time to time by many in informal discussions - an idea, just a random thought, a remote possibility, but still...
That discussion has moved up a notch with Yale historian, Timothy Snyder, claiming that "It's pretty much inevitable" that Trump will try to stage such a coup to overthrow democracy.
Our story about how nothing could never go wrong was a story about how human nature is the free market and the free market brings democracy, so everything is hunky-dory — and of course every part of that story is nonsense. The Greeks understood that democracy is likely to produce oligarchy, because if you don’t have some mechanism to get inequality under control then people with the most money will likely take full control.
With Trump one sees the new variant of this where a candidate can run by saying, “Look, we all know — wink, wink, nudge, nudge — that this isn’t really a democracy anymore.” He doesn’t use the words but basically says, “We all know this is really an oligarchy, so let me be your oligarch.” Although it’s nonsense, and of course he’s a con man and will betray everyone, it makes sense only in this climate of inequality.
On the prospects of an engineered "state of emergency" and suspension of democratic restraints.
Let me make just two points. The first is that I think it’s pretty much inevitable that they will try. The reason I think that is that the conventional ways of being popular are not working out for them. The conventional way to be popular or to be legitimate in this country is to have some policies, to grow your popularity ratings and to win some elections. I don’t think 2018 is looking very good for the Republicans along those conventional lines. Not just because the president is historically unpopular. It’s also because neither the White House nor Congress have any policies which the majority of the public like.
This means they could be seduced by the notion of getting into a new rhythm of politics, one that does not depend upon popular policies and electoral cycles.
Whether it works or not depends upon whether when something terrible happens to this country, we are aware that the main significance of it is whether or not we are going to be more or less free citizens in the future.
My gut feeling is that Trump and his administration will try and that it won’t work. Not so much because we are so great but because we have a little bit of time to prepare. I also think that there are enough people and enough agencies of the government who have also thought about this, and would not necessarily go along.
The path of resistance.
If Trump was going to strike, when?