Steadfast as a Cult

Trump shows how a proper democratic system can be converted to authoritarianism. Only voters can stop him.

In a normal country governed by the rule of law, in a stable democracy, there would have been more than enough reasons for the president to resign by now. OK, strictly speaking the reasons would have been there before Donald Trump even won the election and took office. His former lawyer directly accuses him of serious offenses; his former campaign manager has been convicted and will be in prison for several years. A look at the history of resignations of politicians around the world reveals that many have stepped down for much more minor allegations.

But then this also assumes that the party of the politician who has been caught has a certain sense of political hygiene – and that society’s common consensus about acceptable behavior is still intact. And ultimately that the separation of powers – and the critical monitoring role of the media – is generally accepted.

This is exactly where Trump has succeeded in shifting the standards. When Trump talks about those investigating him, he calls it a “witch hunt,” judges who rule against him are “so-called judge[s],” and every critical report in the media is “fake news.” And anyone watching his appearance in West Virginia on Tuesday evening, just after the news from the courtrooms was broadcast on TV, could see that Trump’s supporters believe his every word. And as long as Republican congressmen and senators cannot distance themselves from the president because it benefits their own political ambitions, and they go along with his cult-like denial and negation of reality instead, the legal route will remain obstructed.

Trump shows how a proper democratic system can be converted into authoritarianism when no one stops it. As things stand, only voters in the November midterm elections can.

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