Is Trump Plotting to Be a Tyrant?

Is Trump Plotting to Be a Tyrant?
Former President Donald Trump sits in the courtroom during his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court in New York City on Nov. 6, 2023. (Curtis Means/Pool/Getty Images)
Jeffrey A. Tucker
Here we go with the biggest rap against Donald Trump, namely that he is an authoritarian. The New York Times and others will proclaim this daily from now to next year. Whole issues of once-respected magazines will be devoted to this theme. It will be the non-stop and eventually deafening drumbeat.

To assess this, let’s be honest and reality-based.

Are we really, at this late date, to believe that the New York Times, The Atlantic, and so on are to be our reliable protectors of freedom against dictators after so many years of celebrating and otherwise covering up the depredations of the Biden regime and all its blue-state offshoots around the country? Let’s say their anti-authoritarian credentials are not stellar.

Sadly, once we discount the source, the charge against Mr. Trump is not without evidence. As the Times documents, he has praised Japanese internment during World War II. He celebrated the 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen protests. He cheered Saddam’s political murders. He has been obsequious toward Xi Jinping’s claims to be president for life. He has generally shown all sorts of admiration for executive strongmen and so on.

Yes, I wrote a whole book on this topic back in 2016. There is such a thing as non-leftist authoritarianism. In the modern iteration, it dates from 1820 at least with Hegel’s theorizing that history was on a track that would drive it toward unity in state, church, and business, with all communities and families marching in the same direction toward the national interest.

Mr. Trump has instincts toward that ideal, and some of them are dangerous.

This is precisely why Mr. Trump was vulnerable to Fauci’s push to lock down the country: he genuinely wanted to use presidential power to do big things. It’s where his gut leads him. It ruined his presidency and the country. Even from 2015, he often spoke of the presidency as the CEO of the entire nation rather than merely the head of state. That’s a spin on a Wilsonian vision that has nothing to do with the Constitution.

For all these reasons, the mainstream liberal accusations against him are not without substance.

That said, the NYT has spent four years cheering on a slightly different brand of authoritarianism: the biomedical security state, forced vaccination, and egregious violations of civil liberties. They wanted businesses closed longer, shamed people for wanting to exercise freedom, and blasted churches for wanting to hold services and sing.

Trump bowed to the pressure to lock down and that was tragic. But he shaped up a few months later and flipped his view. Meanwhile, the New York Times became even worse over time, pushing for the masking of kids, continuing to restrict commerce, and then pressing for universal vaccine mandates and digital vaccination passports.

In the authoritarian scorecard on COVID, I would give Mr. Trump a D but the New York Times an absolute F! In the meantime, Mr. Trump has promised no more lockdowns no matter what whereas the NYT and friends are pushing for the United States to go along with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) plot for a global treaty that would lock down all economies to wait for a vaccine in the event of a new pathogen.

So the paper doesn’t exactly have a lot of credibility here. And if you read far enough into these stories, you will invariably find complaints about the very thing that Mr. Trump wants that is the very opposite of authoritarianism: taking on the powers and reach of the administrative state.

I’m telling you, this is what they fear the most! In other words, in the name of complaining about Mr. Trump’s tyrannical tendencies, the NYT is truly worried that he will dismantle the existing machinery of real tyranny. Here is what today’s article claims:

“Mr. Trump would seek to expand presidential power in myriad ways — concentrating greater authority over the executive branch in the White House, ending the independence of agencies Congress set up to operate outside of presidential control and reducing civil service protections to make it easier to fire and replace tens of thousands of government workers.”

Let’s break this down point by point.

He wants to concentrate power? Well, the plan is to have the White House exercise more control over the executive branch! If not the White House, then who? We know who: the administrative state, which all good liberals absolutely love as their essential machinery of power and control.

The system of administrative rule is egregious. The deep state gets to do whatever it wants. When something goes wrong, the U.S. president gets the blame—even though the U.S. president currently has no control over it!

That is not a viable system. It’s a ridiculous system. All the Trump people want—and this is also true of DeSantis and Kennedy—is for the people through the sitting president finally to gain some modicum of control over the 436 agencies that rule them without check today.

This is not authoritarianism. It is the exact opposite. It is called republican government: a system whereby the people are in control of government rather than the reverse.

Now let’s address the “independence of agencies Congress set up to operate outside of presidential control.” Some of these supposed acts of Congress date back 100 years. How in the world should some mistake from a century ago permit a permanent bureaucratic machine, operating without limit, to run roughshod over the people’s rights and liberties forever?

There is a serious matter of the separation of powers here. Congress cannot fully transfer powers that it has under the U.S. Constitution to the executive branch, even if they want to. True, they have done this for a very long time but the courts need to fix this problem immediately. They likely will over the coming years.

Plus, the Times here is merely using weasel words to cover up the terrible reality. There is nothing in the Constitution about “independent agencies.” In a free society, there should be no such thing. The framers never imagined them to exist. Indeed, what is the definition of tyranny except a powerful government agency that operates without any accountability or oversight? And yet this is precisely what Mr. Trump’s critics are celebrating!

Finally, the Times complains that Mr. Trump intends to reduce “civil service protections to make it easier to fire and replace tens of thousands of government workers.”

How in the world is this tyranny? It’s the very opposite: dismantling the existing despotism in favor of more freedom. This is all a reference to the famous executive order that would enable a new designation (Schedule F) for civil service workers. This is desperately needed if we are ever to get back to a restrained government under the rule of law.

I conclude that many if not all the complaints that Mr. Trump will be a tyrant are really complaints that he will take steps to end the existing tyranny! In other words, the real reason they hate him is that they fear that he will no longer tolerate a government that rules without some accountability to the president and the people. That’s what is really behind all this high dudgeon over Mr. Trump’s authoritarian rule.

Let this be a lesson. In today’s media culture, nothing is as it seems. Freedom is called authoritarianism and true tyranny comes in the form of anodyne phrases like “independent agencies.”

Again, it’s not crazy to worry about a second Trump term. The whole history of the 20th century tells a story of one bad tyranny leading to another, while toggling between cultural and ideological excuses. We might be entering into this cycle as a nation.

But the reasons to worry about Mr. Trump have nothing to do with what truly vexes the New York Times and its friends. I would truly love to believe that the Deep State is genuinely worried and has good reason to be.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Jeffrey A. Tucker is the founder and president of the Brownstone Institute, and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press, as well as 10 books in five languages, most recently “Liberty or Lockdown.” He is also the editor of The Best of Mises. He writes a daily column on economics for The Epoch Times and speaks widely on the topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.
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