Opinion: In Donald Trump, America Under The Leadership Of A ‘very Stable Genius’

President Trump’s criticism of CNN continued Sunday calling out Jake Tapper on Twitter after a contentious interview with White House senior adviser Stephen Miller. For more on the story here is Zachary Devita. Buzz60

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with members of the press while departing the White House January 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump is scheduled to spend the weekend at the presidential retreat, Camp David.(Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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Remember when you didn’t have to constantly care about politics? For decades, that was one of the longstanding privileges of living in a Western democracy. Sure, being politically engaged has always been the duty of every citizen, but it used to be the case that you wouldn’t miss 100 crazy stories if you tuned out for a few days.

Until Donald Trump, self-proclaimed “very stable genius.”

It is now impossible for anyone to go 24 hours without hearing Trump’s name. And while that may be music to his narcissistic ears, it’s also chillingly familiar to people like me who study authoritarian regimes in the rest of the world. The constant barrage, the reminders that nothing is normal, is a strategy of control elsewhere – one that won’t allow people to ever forget who is in charge.

In Mao’s China, citizens were effectively required to carry around his Little Red Book. In North Korea, there are an estimated 34,000 statues of the Kim dynasty dotting the landscape – about one every 2 miles. And in most of the authoritarian countries I’ve lived in, the capital city is draped with images of the leader – with pressure from the government to display his photo in offices and even homes.

The United States is nothing like those countries, and it’s alarmist hyperbole to suggest otherwise. Even so, there are two parallels between Trump’s cult of personality and personality cults under authoritarianism:

  • Trump – like most despots – has an unquenchable thirst for attention. He craves the spotlight and has an ingenious ability to force it onto himself.
  • We are all facing a similarly overwhelming and endless bombardment of Trump piped into our lives through uninterrupted television coverage, a long string of often unhinged tweets (more than 2,500 since he became president) and the commentary that follows (like this column).
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People watch a TV news program showing the Twitter post of U.S. President Donald Trump while reporting North Korea's nuclear issue, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. Trump boasted that he has a bigger and more powerful "nuclear button" than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un does — but the president doesn't actually have a physical button. The letters on the screen read: "More powerful nuclear button." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon) (Photo: Ahn Young-joon, AP)

Then, of course, the authoritarian nature of his presidency is jarring too. Constant lies. Demonizing the press and trying to stop publication of a critical book. Scapegoating minorities. Surrounding himself with generals and family members. Appointing unqualified cronies. Ethics violations. Pardoning political allies while calling to jail his opponents. And attacking those who are investigating him for potential criminal behavior. It hasn’t even been a year yet. There could be three or seven more to come.

How do people in the rest of the world cope? What are the most effective tactics for dealing with living under a wannabe despot who demands our attention like a petulant child?

  • First, don’t tune out. Creeping authoritarianism requires an uninterested citizenry giving in to exhaustion and ignoring the changes around them. Authoritarian and wannabe authoritarian leaders count on destroying democracy with a thousand cuts, hoping that each will go unnoticed.
  • Second, don’t accept “new normals.” Getting used to unacceptable behavior causes it to take root. Sadly, it’s already happening. The first time you heard Trump call a critical media report FAKE NEWS? Shocking. Now we shrug. The first travel ban sparked mass protests. The next ban sparked tweets. Seven years of that trend would make American democracy unrecognizable.
  • Third, don’t let Trump divide us. Divide-and-rule tactics are a common hallmark of authoritarian regimes.

The overwhelming majority of Americans disapprove of Trump. But if Americans stand divided against Trump, he will unite his base and win. If Democrats and principled Republicans who oppose Trumpism sit on the sidelines rather than going all in for less-than-perfect candidates, he will win.

Lowry: Donald Trump’s 50 shades of blue

Nation: Trump says he'd be open to talking with North Korean leader

Opinion: Is Trump, Breitbart done with Steve Bannon?

Trump is following an impulsive and dangerous authoritarian playbook. Most countries – from Turkey to Russia to the Philippines – don’t manage to block wannabe despots. But the United States is not like most countries. We have the power to stop Trump and Trumpism in its tracks. This is not a drill. Don’t treat it like one.

Brian Klaas, a fellow in comparative politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science, is author of The Despot’s Apprentice: Donald Trump’s Attack on Democracy.

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CLOSEMICHAEL WOLFF BOOK ON CHAOS IN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S WHITE HOUSE Report: 'Fire and Fury' is being turned into a TV show | 0:47

Fire and Fury will be burning up the small screen! Rob Smith (@robsmithonline) has all the details! Buzz60

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CLOSEMICHAEL WOLFF BOOK ON CHAOS IN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S WHITE HOUSE 'Fire and Fury' author Michael Wolff could rake in $7.4 million | 1:14

The author of the bombshell bestseller “Fire and Fury” stands to make as much as $7.4 million or more if curious readers continue snatching up the tell-all. Nathan Rousseau Smith (@FantasticMrNate) has the story. Buzz60

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CLOSEMICHAEL WOLFF BOOK ON CHAOS IN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S WHITE HOUSE Trump: Current Libel Laws a Sham and Disgrace | 1:42

Addressing his first Cabinet meeting of 2018, President Donald Trump touted his administration's accomplishments and said his White House would address the nation's libel laws, which he called a "sham and a disgrace." (Jan. 10) AP

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CLOSEMICHAEL WOLFF BOOK ON CHAOS IN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S WHITE HOUSE After 'Fire and Fury' book, people are searching '25th Amendment' | 0:47

The 25th amendment allows for a sitting president to be removed from office - and it’s news to President Trump! Buzz60

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CLOSEMICHAEL WOLFF BOOK ON CHAOS IN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S WHITE HOUSE Why Michael Wolff's Trump expose is unprecedented | 2:21

Michael Wolff's decision to publish 'Fire and Fury' after Trump's lawyers filed a cease-and-desist letter was an unprecedented move. Here's why. USA TODAY

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CLOSEMICHAEL WOLFF BOOK ON CHAOS IN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S WHITE HOUSE Who is Michael Wolff? | 1:42

What to know about the author of the explosive new Trump book. Time

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CLOSEMICHAEL WOLFF BOOK ON CHAOS IN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S WHITE HOUSE AP Reporter: Wolff had 'unfettered' access to WH | 1:57

An Associated Press White House reporter breaks down the controversial book 'Fire and Fury' by Michael Wolff. Jonathan Lemire says Wolff had 'largely unfettered access' to the West Wing compared to other White House reporters. (Jan. 5) AP

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CLOSEMICHAEL WOLFF BOOK ON CHAOS IN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S WHITE HOUSE D.C. bookstore sold out of ‘Fire and Fury’ 20 minutes after release | 0:59

A Washington D.C. bookstore sold out of copies of Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” 20 minutes after its midnight release. Buzz60

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CLOSEMICHAEL WOLFF BOOK ON CHAOS IN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S WHITE HOUSE I 'probably' called Trump an 'idiot' sarcastically, ex-advisor admits | 1:11

President Trump’s former campaign adviser Sam Nunberg admits he "probably" called the president an "idiot" inside the explosive new tell-all "Fire and Fury." Nathan Rousseau Smith (@FantasticMrNate) explains. Buzz60

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  • Report: 'Fire and Fury' is being turned into a TV show Report: 'Fire and Fury' is being turned into a TV show
  • 'Fire and Fury' author Michael Wolff could rake in $7.4 million 'Fire and Fury' author Michael Wolff could rake in $7.4 million
  • Trump: Current Libel Laws a Sham and Disgrace Trump: Current Libel Laws a Sham and Disgrace
  • After 'Fire and Fury' book, people are searching '25th Amendment' After 'Fire and Fury' book, people are searching '25th Amendment'
  • Why Michael Wolff's Trump expose is unprecedented Why Michael Wolff's Trump expose is unprecedented
  • Who is Michael Wolff? Who is Michael Wolff?
  • AP Reporter: Wolff had 'unfettered' access to WH AP Reporter: Wolff had 'unfettered' access to WH
  • D.C. bookstore sold out of ‘Fire and Fury’ 20 minutes after release D.C. bookstore sold out of ‘Fire and Fury’ 20 minutes after release
  • I 'probably' called Trump an 'idiot' sarcastically, ex-advisor admits I 'probably' called Trump an 'idiot' sarcastically, ex-advisor admits

 

Source : http://www.northjersey.com/story/opinion/contributors/2018/01/09/donald-trump-america-under-leadership-very-stable-genius/1012171001/

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