Is He Authoritarian01-21-2018
Is He Authoritarian
[caption id="attachment_19483" align="alignright" width="300"] By Gage Skidmore[/caption] In his first year as President, Donald Trump sent 2,600 tweets and spent parts of 86 days playing golf. Last week we featured an essay by Corey Robin arguing that President Trump was hardly a nefarious autocrat and that he should be seen for what he is, a farcical and weak leader and not, as many argue, as a dangerous authoritarian. Jeffrey C. Isaac takes issue with Robin’s argument.
“Robin claims that Trump looks weak. In the ways that Robin notes, this is obviously true. But as he also knows, there exists no standpoint — independent place from which to observe such things. And it is worth considering whether there are some standpoints, rooted in real experience, from which Trump looks not weak but powerful and frightening by virtue of his power. I wonder if so-called DACA children and their families see Trump and his administration as “weak.” Or women, associated with #MeToo and a range of long-standing groups and causes, women who have experienced sexual harassment and violence or who fear it, and who are distressed that a serial abuser holds the most powerful position in the country. Are African-American youth paying attention to Trump’s supposed weakness when he encourages police to break some heads? Are there not real constituencies, numbering in the millions of people, who experience the way Trump regularly incites, mobilizes, and enacts racism, sexism, and xenophobia? Can we imagine that they see not “weakness,” but powerful and energizing rhetoric, sometimes linked to actual policy efforts, and sometimes to actual violence, that threatens them? Does this mean that Trump is a proto-Hitler? No. But does it mean that Trump appears dangerously powerful and powerfully dangerous to many citizens, and that serious political analysis ought to take account of this? Yes…. “Has Trump instituted a new, “authoritarian” regime? No. Is his Presidency profoundly authoritarian in its approach to the rhetoric and the enactment of political power? Yes. Does authoritarianism “loom,” as a dark shadow cast upon everything, and as a frightening possibility thus far forestalled by determined forms of political opposition and civic resistance? Of course it does. Trump is a distinctly American version of a broader global trend: the rise of authoritarian populist leaders who use new media platforms to attack already eroded forms of party politics and mass communication, attack independent judicial, civil service, and media institutions, and incite populist resentment as a way of building a base of political power. Trump has thus far been less successful than many other authoritarian populist leaders, because of his own personal defects, because of the relative resilience of American institutions, and also because there has been very strong opposition to his efforts. This opposition has been energized by the very concern that Robin dismisses: that authoritarianism is a looming danger that must be contested.”Form more information visit: http://www.publicseminar.org/2018/01/why-is-trumps-authoritarianism-so-hard-for-some-to-recognize/
Farce, Not Tragedy
[caption id="attachment_19492" align="alignleft" width="300"] By Master Steve Rapport - Women’s March San Francisco 2018, CC BY 2.0[/caption] Rich Lowry thinks President Trump is a farce, not a tyrant. He argues that those who mobilize to fight an imaginary despot may do more harm to American democracy than the President.
“Trump isn’t a despot. Far from being an autocrat, he’s a weak president susceptible to the views of the last person he’s talked to and so deferential to Congress that he spent all of last year pining for a signing ceremony for literally anything lawmakers could send him on health care or taxes. At its worst, the Trump White House isn’t sinister; it’s farcical. It’s not Recep Tayyip Erdogan carefully and deliberately creating a one-party state; it’s Trump getting miscued by a TV show into a tweet undermining his administration’s own position on the reauthorization of a surveillance program…. There’s no doubt Trump violates norms that we should want to preserve. The president shouldn’t slam reporters and news organizations by name, call for people in the private sector to be fired, criticize companies or urge that his adversaries be jailed, among other routine provocations. Trump does not, to say the least, have a deep understanding of our constitutional system, and if he had his druthers, his Justice Department probably would be completely loyal to him personally. But is he serious enough about this impulse to execute a plan to carry it out and bear the political consequences, even from Republicans? Of course not. So, he stews about his DOJ, and even attacks it as the “deep state,” but Attorney General Jeff Sessions remains in place and special counsel Robert Mueller continues his work. If Trump’s eruptions don’t speak well of him, they shouldn’t be confused with unconstitutional acts. The first time Trump said he wanted to tighten up libel laws, it was alarming; the second time he said it, it was notable; by about the fifth time he said it — with obviously no intention to follow through — it was clearly an irritable mental tic. Some of the alarm about Trump is over fairly normal expressions of democratic politics. It’s a natural dynamic that special-prosecutor investigations become partisan war zones. Anyone appalled by the attacks of Trump allies on Mueller should acquaint themselves with what James Carville and Paul Begala said about Kenneth Starr. The irony is that those who believe Trump is a budding despot are themselves violating important norms. It’s hard to imagine Trump doing anything as remotely undemocratic as the Electoral College coup some heretofore serious people on the left advocated after his 2016 victory. Josef Stalin wouldn’t tolerate any of this agitation. Donald Trump rages against it, stirs it and enjoys it, one news cycle at a time.”Form more information visit: https://nypost.com/2018/01/18/the-trump-is-a-despot-crew-is-the-real-threat-to-democracy/
Who Is Not A Neoliberal?
[caption id="attachment_19491" align="alignright" width="300"] By Ralph Alswang, Office of the President – Clinton Presidential Library, Public Domain[/caption] Wendy Brown asks the uncomfortable question.
“I would invert the question to ask who is not a neoliberal today. A governing rationality like neoliberalism organizes and constructs a great deal of conduct and a great many values without appearing to do so. It produces “reality principles” by which we live without thinking about them. Thus, almost everyone in workplaces, social media presentations, educational institutions, non-profits, the arts, and more is governed by neoliberal norms. It’s quite hard to escape neoliberal rationality, including for those who imagine that they are radically critical of it. Consider, for example, how many left intellectuals use their social media profiles—Twitter, Facebook, etc.—not to build the Revolution, but to promote their books, speaking gigs, and ideas in order to boost their market value. This has become so ubiquitous that we hardly notice it.”Form more information visit: https://tocqueville21.com/interviews/wendy-brown-not-neoliberal-today/