As we enter the second week of the dictatorship

January 29, 2017

Make no mistake about it, we in the United States are one week and counting into the Donald Trump dictatorship.

(Yes, I realize the accusation that a president is acting like a dictator is commonplace, Republicans accused Barack Obama of that. But I really think this is for real and poses an imminent threat unless action is taken soon.)

Many actions have been taken, such as banning people from entering the country without clear guidelines as to figure out exactly who is to be banned, and therefore in some cases, it has been reported, banning American citizens, scientists from abroad, green card holders, and students. He has ordered the construction of a new wall at the U.S.- Mexico border, the virtual repeal of Obamacare,  a halt to enforcement of some environmental regulations, the building of new environmentally-questionable oil and gas pipelines, and has attempted to muzzle communication between government agencies and the press and public.

Perhaps most troublesome of all, by a simple signing of an executive order he suspended NAFTA the free-trade agreement that links the U.S. and Mexico and Canada. His aim he said was to stop Mexico from taking unfair advantage of us and stealing jobs from American workers. But the fact is, whether there needs to be a more favorable negotiation, is that pulling out of NAFTA could mean a major loss for U.S. business and jobs. So an action has been taken without any study of the facts and debate in congress and could do irreparable damage to our economy. And the way it was done and the ongoing issue in which the president claims Mexico should pay for the wall (and they would do that because?) may well force Mexico to turn to other trading partners –China? South America, Spain, the rest of the world.

He also by the stroke of his pen put what could be considered the final nail in the coffin of the U.S. participating in a trans pacific trade deal, thus turning over the reins to China.

While not unprecedented for presidents, he has declared a virtual war on journalism — I know most people prefer the term “media” — and has asserted something his administrations calls “alternative facts”.

But without getting into detail about all he is doing, let’s just look at the immigration action or travel ban — I say travel ban because at one point over the past 24 or 48 hours people holding green cards were advised by the government to check with the proper authorities first before leaving the country– they might not be let back in.

The action on immigration seems somewhat confusing but I lifted the following from the New York Times (and I hope that does not violate copyright):

The president’s order, enacted with the stroke of a pen at 4:42 p.m. Eastern on Friday, suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

A series of rulings by federal judges across the country blocked part of the president’s actions, preventing the government from deporting some travelers who found themselves ensnared by the presidential order. But the court decisions largely stopped short of letting them into the country or issuing a broader ruling on the constitutionality of Mr. Trump’s actions.

Now the whole premise of the wall and the immigration ban is that they are actions designed to protect our nation from a flood of undocumented immigrants, enemies, and common criminals from without. But the way that this is all coming down, by executive orders signed with much fanfare by President Trump but without any legislative debate and action I fear sets a precedent for more to come. It’s shaping up to be a dictatorship or actually already is.

Now I am reading that there is beginning to be some concern among the Republican majority in congress. I would hope so. And of course there is by the Democrats.

What worries me is that if the president by simple fiat can do all this, what is to stop him from doing anything, such as banning travel by American citizens abroad? Walls and travel restrictions can work both ways. He might come up with some theory about citizens engaging in conspiracies with foreign counterparts or he might simply declare certain places too dangerous for American citizens to travel to — and they might not be the usually suspects. He might declare France too dangerous or any nation who might have the temerity to criticize his administration — say Mexico.

Even if he does not have bad motives, this is Trump’s style, and it is a very dangerous one.

I have attached most of my previous post:

I generally prefer a strong president. And that certainly is what Donald Trump in his first week of office thinks he is no doubt. And to bolster that feeling he is holding the Republican Party hostage — I mean he won the presidency by the rules, and even if he did not get the majority vote, he did get a sizeable vote. And he did this under the banner of the Republican Party (with some reluctance until he seemed inevitable).

And to top that he has seemingly sent the Democratic Party into the wilderness. It is all but powerless at this time in both houses of congress and holds very few state houses anymore.

Commentator David Brooks of the New York Times and a regular on the PBS News Hour offered that Trump is really not a Republican or Democrat or of any party — he just used the GOP to his advantage.

And I would say that he does seem to have the GOP regulars confused and disoriented.

His first week of office, just past, was governance and foreign policy by tweet and executive orders.

It is preferable I believe to have a strong leader (not Trump maybe, but a strong person, male or female) in charge. I wish we could swap Trump for Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom. She speaks intelligently and sounds reasonable (don’t know if I would agree with all of her ideas). But at the same time we have something called the “separation of powers” between the three branches of government (executive, legislative, judicial) which is supposed to create a system of checks and balances to prevent one branch from taking over and to prevent a dictatorship.

Now the modern history is that executives, often in conjunction with their party in congress, have done their best to pack the Supreme Court in an effort to use it as a tool, that is to select judges they think will render opinions favorable to their way of thinking. That does not always work. Justices have a habit of being not always predictable and of being independent and they cannot be fired, only impeached. No U.S. Supreme Court justices have been removed via impeachment. One did resign under threat of impeachment.

But anyway I would hope, even though Trump won on the Republican ticket and even though the GOP has control of congress, that the legislative branch who is not in lockstep with him on all issues, that is not in private (in public they are in a quandary), will not simply roll over and play dead or back down in fear they will anger Trump’s following. They have their own home constituents, many of whom will likely suffer from many of Trump’s proposals if brought to fruition or who at least don’t approve of his policies.

And finally, I give credit to Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim (what, the third richest man in the world?) for explaining that Trump is a negotiator but not an experienced policy maker and that policy cannot be made by tweets. Slim, it is said, prefers face-to-face meetings or the telephone. He reportedly does not have a twitter account.

And then about business people running public policy:

Government is not a business and is not meant to be. The duty of democratic (small d)government is to serve the people, even when in doing so no profit is made. However that does not mean governments should bankrupt the treasury — of course they have to be fiscally responsible.

But one person’s fiscally responsible is another’s boondoggle.

Anyway, hopefully there will be checks on our new strong leader’s power: the other two branches of government, and most important, an informed citizenry, who can keep up on the issues via a free and unrestricted but responsible press.