The Rise and Fall of a Would-be American Dictator

The Rise and Fall of a Would-be American Dictator

© David Burton 2021

The Dictator

     With the rejection by the American people of Donald Trump in 2020, we have hopefully arrived at the end of the story about the rise and fall of a would-be American dictator. In so many ways, Donald Trump exhibited the attributes of past and present despots.

Realizing that America Had Elected a Would-be Dictator

     In early 2020, prior to the electoral defeat of Donald Trump in November, Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, with a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter, wrote about President Trump that “we finally understood that we have a man as president who is acting like a fascist dictator. Just look at the headlines from one day's New York Times alone: ‘Alarm in Capital as Axes Swing in Growing Post-Acquittal Purge,’ ‘Justice Dept. Acts to Ease Sentence for a Trump Ally.’ If either one of those headlines had run on the front page of a major American newspaper before now, not to mention both of them at once, we would have believed as a people, as a citizenry, that we were facing a national crisis. But this week? Wednesday was just another day in Donald Trump's America.(Ref. 1)

     In his February 2020 article, Truscott had the following to say (as summarized by this writer).

     In what became known as the "Tuesday night massacre," all four prosecutors in the case against Trump's longtime friend and political bad boy Roger Stone had resigned in protest of the intervention by Trump and his attorney general, William Barr, to reduce the sentence recommended by the Department of Justice in Stone's conviction for lying to congressional committees and tampering with witnesses.
     All of this followed closely the "Friday night massacre" when Trump fired two of the impeachment witnesses against him, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman of the National Security Council and Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union.
     But two "massacres" in a row was just the beginning. By mid-week, Trump was suggesting that Army officials with court-martial authority over Vindman should "take a look at" punishing him for testifying at the impeachment hearing. Later, the New York Times front page trumpeted, "U.S. Lawyers Fear Removal of a Guardrail: Stone Case Stirs Worry of What's to Come." And by Friday morning, a panel of legal pundits on MSNBC were worrying about what would happen when Trump didn't merely step in to help allies like Stone but actually began prosecuting his political foes. Isn’t this what dictators do – eliminate those who oppose him?
     Folks, let's not mince words: This is the kind of stuff we read about happening in dictatorships like Russia and North Korea and Iran. And yes, it's the kind of rule by strong-arm fiat that was practiced by Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany.
     Before that week in February 2020, I would have thought it an exaggeration to compare Trump's frequent rallies to the infamous Nuremberg rallies Hitler held during the1930s. No longer. Trump's rallies were unnervingly close to those held in Nuremberg. The MAGA hat had become a kind of Trumpian Nazi helmet. The denunciations of hated minorities were the same. As was his insane bellowing before a crowd screaming its slavish obeisance.
     Let's just stop for a moment and consider the angry chants of "Lock her up," first directed at Hillary Clinton, now at Nancy Pelosi. What do Trump's cheering crowds want his Democratic opponents locked up for? Neither of those women has faced criminal charges, much less been convicted of any crime. Neither is even under investigation for corruption or alleged criminal behavior. But that doesn't matter to Trump and his rally crowds. This stuff has been going on for so long, it's clear that they actually do want them locked up. When Trump stands before his screaming fans, raising his arms and smiling, it's obvious he does, too. To call for the imprisonment of political opponents without trial is not playing with rhetoric for effect. It's not political gimmickry. It's not cute. It's not funny. It's not clever. Let's say out loud what it is: It's pure fascism, plain and simple.
     The man who stood before those rallies and encouraged such idolatry wasn't merely running for president. He was calling, directly and without apology, for the kind of obedience and loyalty demanded by dictators. He was commanding worship and submission. It must be why he attracts so completely the support of evangelical Christians. He truly is the false idol their Bible warned them against. They have fallen for him in the same way the most conspicuously devout worshipers commit sins. The inevitability of Trump and his evangelical masses is jaw-dropping, and yes, biblical.
     We had the practically comic spectacle of Attorney General Barr scolding Trump publicly for his tweets in an interview with ABC News, saying they "make it impossible for me to do my job." Within hours, Trump replied - by tweet, naturally enough - that he had the "legal right" to tell Barr what to do in a criminal case, "but I have so far chosen not to!"
     It's hard to put a finger on the worst thing Trump did since taking office, but right up there was the complete destruction of the idea that the person in the Oval Office is the president of all the people. He wasn't. He didn't want to be. If you didn't vote for him, if you were not out there wearing a MAGA hat and screaming at his rallies, you were a non-person. If your state didn't go for him in the 2016 election, forget about it. Just ask California, or Puerto Rico, still waiting for federal assistance after natural disasters. Or ask New York, which Trump was extorting like a domestic Ukraine, by denying New Yorkers access to the "Trusted Traveler" program unless the state "stopped all of its unnecessary lawsuits & harrassment" [sic].
     To divide the country into those Trump approved of and those he did not is inherently fascistic. That way lies the singling out of non-supporters and minorities for special treatment.
     Donald Trump has been an existential threat to the virtues of the democracy we have enjoyed for more than two centuries. He has been a real threat to the things we have thought we shared as Americans: the love of variety and dissent, and a belief in the consent of the governed; the capacity of all citizens to respect each other's opposing positions, even amid vigorous disagreement; a respect for the disadvantaged and a scorn for the absolutism of the strong; A universal contempt for the public lie. Trump stands in outright opposition to all of this, and he has been a threat to us all.
     Thinking Americans watched with dismay as Trump took a blowtorch to the Department of Justice and the rule of law, firing his enemies, rewarding his friends, making a mockery of the Constitution and everything it stands for.[1]

     In many ways, Donald Trump consistently displayed characteristics which we associate with despotic leaders and totalitarian dictators. As happened with so many of these tyrants, Trump’s dictatorial style endeared him to many adherents who blindly followed their glorious leader. The followers of many dictators of the past either lived to regret their choice or never lived long enough to see to what calamities their ill-conceived decisions had led their nations and so many other peoples. So, what were/are the features that distinguish a dictator and in what ways did Donald Trump exhibit these characteristics?

Disregard for the Will of the People

     “When the strongman ruler of Belarus declared an implausible landslide victory in an election in August, and had himself sworn in for a sixth term as president, the United States and other Western nations denounced what they said was brazen defiance of the voters’ will.
     “President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko’s victory, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month, was ‘fraud.’ Mr. Pompeo added: ‘We’ve opposed the fact that he’s now inaugurated himself. We know what the people of Belarus want. They want something different.’
     “Just a month on, Mr. Pompeo’s boss, President Trump, {was} borrowing from Mr. Lukashenko’s playbook, joining a club of truculent leaders who, regardless of what voters decide, declare themselves the winners of elections.
     “That club counts as its members far more dictators, tyrants and potentates than leaders of what used to be known as the ‘free world’ - countries that, led by Washington, have for decades lectured others on the need to hold elections and respect the result.
      - - -
     “Among the anti-democratic tactics Mr. Trump . . . adopted are some that were commonly employed by leaders like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela and Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia - refusing to concede defeat and hurling unfounded accusations of electoral fraud. The tactics also include undermining confidence in democratic institutions and the courts, attacking the press and vilifying opponents.” (Ref. 2)

-      At the end of November 2020, as Donald Trump and his henchmen continued to claim that he had won an election that he overwhelmingly lost, Trump demonstrated that he had abandoned any last pretense of caring about the country he was leading.

     “Repeating over and over that the election was ‘stolen’ from him, Trump hasn’t merely enshrined himself as the most morally bankrupt public official in American history. By refusing to honor the most fundamental feature of democracy - the cooperative transfer of power by an incumbent to his elected successor - Trump has done more damage to American democracy than Vladimir Putin ever could, other than by military attack. He has invited hostile forces, jubilant at the harm he has inflicted on America’s institutions, to seek to take advantage of us, jeopardizing our national security.
     “By blocking the incoming Biden team from organizing to immediately address a pandemic that {had} seen 3 million new cases in three weeks, Trump {was} consigning innumerable Americans to unnecessary sickness and, inevitably, death. History will record that the 45th president did not merely ignore COVID-19, stupidly dismiss it, refuse to mobilize to protect his countrymen from it and lie to them about it. Trump {had} actually prevented his elected successor from promptly acting to safeguard the American people from the raging disease that he bailed on.
     “Donald Trump will not enter our pantheon of shame by himself. He has been coddled and enabled by Republican politicians more disposed to cower and grovel than honor the basic civics lessons we were all taught in elementary school.
     “There have been rare exceptions, and they have been notable. ‘Having failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy before any court of law,’ said Sen. Mitt Romney last week, ‘the president has now resorted to overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election. It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American president.’
     “In Pennsylvania, federal judge Mathew Brann, a conservative Republican, did not permit personal politics to affect judicial review of Trump’s attempt to overthrow that state’s election by invalidating millions of properly cast ballots. Likening the president’s ‘strained’ legal attempt to undo a fair election to ‘Frankenstein’s monster,’ Judge Brann was blunt. Trump, he held, ‘ask(s) the Court to violate the rights of over 6.8 million Americans. It is not in the power of this Court to violate the Constitution.’ “ (Ref. 3)

Oblivious to Reality

     Just two weeks following the election, it was reported that, “President Donald Trump's administration is taking on the characteristics of a tottering regime - with its loyalty tests, destabilizing attacks on the military chain of command, a deepening bunker mentality and increasingly delusional claims of political victory.
      - - -
     “. . . Meanwhile the President is staying behind closed doors, tweeting in wild block capital letters and unleashing a purge of the Pentagon's civilian leadership in what one current defense official called ‘dictator moves.’ And William Cohen, former Secretary of Defense and Republican senator, told CNN's Don Lemon the administration's conduct is ‘more akin to a dictatorship than a democracy.’
      - - -
     “After Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who had put loyalty to the Constitution ahead of his duty to the President, three other senior Pentagon officials have been fired or resigned. They include the department's top policy official, James Anderson, who resigned and is being replaced by retired Brigadier General Anthony Tata, whose nomination for the post earlier this summer foundered after CNN's KFile reported his numerous past Islamophobic and offensive remarks. (Ref. 4)

     Trump’s post-election actions were those of a third-world despot and have tarnished the instruments of American democracy by his obstinate refusal to concede. His actions left the country more vulnerable with revenge firings that threatened to weaken critical national security agencies.


     Dictators like Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini and others have suffered from a megalomania in which they saw themselves as smarter than anyone else, particularly the heads of their military. Even before his election, Donald Trump displayed such behavior when in November 2015, he bragged, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.” (Ref. 5) This from a man who had never served a day of his life in the military.

     During Trump’s 4 years in office, there was an exodus of generals from his administration. Jim Mattis, a retired four-star general, resigned as Secretary of Defense reportedly over Trump’s snap decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria. Trump’s outgoing White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly, defended his tumultuous tenure in an exit interview by highlighting all of the things he convinced Trump not to do. Reports also surfaced that other former top military brass wanted no part in the Trump administration. Prominent generals were explicit that they would not serve in the administration. Stanley McChrystal, a retired four-star general said he would never work in the Trump administration and warned other would-be Trump administration applicants that Trump is “immoral” and does not tell the truth. [5]

The Cult

     Like Trump’s friend in North Korea, that “Dear Leader”, Trump boasted of his unmatched intelligence and brooked no opposition to any of his ideas or actions. Consider his refusal to admit defeat following the 2020 election. By the end of November, Trump’s defeat was obvious to and accepted by nearly everyone – everyone except Donald Trump, that is. One of his own appointees dared to speak the truth and expose the Donald’s disregard for the truth and the will of the American people.

     Christopher Krebs, who led the federal government's election cybersecurity efforts, was fired by President Donald Trump via Twitter. Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, was the target of public criticism from Trump almost immediately following the election over his agency's Rumor Control blog, which rebutted a list of false claims about election fraud and hacking, which Trump or his lawyers were unashamedly touting as real.
     The “never-wrong” Trump tweeted that Krebs had put out a statement concerning the election that was "highly inaccurate," apparently a reference to a joint statement CISA, the Election Assistance Commission and groups that represent the chief election officers in every state. The statement read, in part, "There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised." How could all these qualified and unbiased public officials dare to question the words of our “Dear Leader”? Off with their heads!
     Trump repeatedly charged that the election was rigged, even though no evidence substantiated the claim and numerous state and federal agencies repeatedly said the election was legitimate.
     Response to Krebs’ firing for not adhering to the Trump party line included: "Chris Krebs should be commended for his service in protecting our elections, not fired for telling the truth . . . Bipartisan election officials in the administration itself - and around the country - have made clear that Donald Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud are categorically false and Trump's embarrassing refusal to accept that reality lays bare how baseless and desperate his flailing is." "Chris Krebs is an extraordinary public servant and exactly the person Americans want protecting the security of our elections . . . It speaks volumes that the president chose to fire him simply for telling the truth." “Krebs' firing is a gut punch to our democracy . . . Director Krebs has been praised by both Republicans and Democrats at the state and national level for protecting our nation's critical infrastructure, including our election systems." "The President's inability to accept the election results and his lashing out at those willing to speak the truth about his lies has gone from petulant to downright dangerous."[6]

Refusal to Admit Defeat

     “The authoritarian playbook has no chapter on failure. Nothing prepares the ruler to see his propaganda ignored and his charismatic hold weaken until his own people turn against him. It has no pages on the horror of being voted out of office, as happened to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, or forced into exile, like Ugandan despot Idi Amin. . . For rulers with authoritarian inclinations, loss of power looms as a kind of psychological annihilation - even as it also often evokes practical concerns about the end of immunity from prosecution for them and their families.
     “While Trump was not in power long enough to dismantle American democracy, he did succeed in installing a form of the ‘personalist rule’ that characterizes Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and other autocrats he so admires. Personalist governance concentrates power in one individual, whose own political and financial interests (and relationships with other despots) often prevail over national ones in shaping domestic and foreign policy. Loyalty to the head of state, rather than expertise, is the primary qualification for serving him. By way of example, look to the Republican Party itself, which reduced its 2020 party platform into a mere expression of support for Trump.” (Ref. 7)

Intolerance of a Free Press

     Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, and other dictators quashed, tried to paint the free press as pawns of the opposition or repeatedly squawked that the news media was generating “fake news”

     One of the first things dictators throughout history and throughout time have done once they took power was to eliminate or take over their nation’s free press. The late “Senator John McCain, defending the media against the latest attack by President Donald Trump {in 2017}, warned that suppressing the free press was ‘how dictators get started’.” U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire was another senator concerned about Trump’s attitude toward the news media. “The real danger is the president’s criticism of the media. A free press ... is very important to maintaining democracy, and efforts on the part of a president to undermine and manipulate the press are very dangerous.(Ref. 8)

     Donald Trump, from his first days in office fought and attempted to minimize the impact of America’s new media. He constantly charged news organizations and individuals with promulgating “fake news”. He insulted reputable journalists and belittled news organizations that he perceived as unfriendly. Fortunately for all Americans, he lacked the power to silence America’s free press and news establishments as other dictators did.

     A year into his presidency, “PRESIDENT TRUMP . . . leveraged a recent Politico/Morning Consult poll to prove a point he's been trying to make for months. ‘It is finally sinking through. 46% OF PEOPLE BELIEVE MAJOR NATIONAL NEWS ORGS FABRICATE STORIES ABOUT ME. FAKE NEWS, even worse! Lost cred,’ the president tweeted.
     “What he didn't point out was that this mistrust of the press has been largely of his own making. He and his advisers fomented Lugenpresse – the concept of ‘lying press’ made famous by the Nazi party in Germany during Adolf Hitler's rise to power - to undermine journalists covering his presidential campaign at every stop. Voters shrugged. Now, nearly a year into his administration, those efforts are bearing fruit. Nearly half the country believes the media lies and makes things up about him, calling into question their reliability on everything else as well.
      - - -
     “We are now more than a generation away from Nazi Germany and the roots of the conflict that precipitated World War II. New generations have forgotten how and why the Nazi party rose to absolute authority in Germany. When we forget, what worked then will work again.
      - - -
     “To put it very simply, there were five basic, highly effective moves that allowed Hitler's rise:
     “First, the Nazi party allowed a coarse, uneducated leader to rise to prominence on a white privilege, nationalist wave. Second, the conservative establishment party foolishly thought it could appease him by sharing power. Third, that same Nazi party destroyed media credibility to silence critics. Fourth, the Nazis literally burned the establishment congress to the ground. Fifth, it seized authoritarian power by using unchallenged propaganda to precipitate an existential threat allegedly emanating from those outside the white Aryan race and outside the nation's borders.
     “It is the third stage - destroying the credibility of the mainstream media - that's happening right now, and the Politico/Morning Consult poll shows it's working. . .
      - - -
     “State-sanctioned propaganda - which works by destroying independent media credibility while simultaneously disseminating lies - is now lurking around every corner in America, and in the press briefing room at the White House itself, where the press secretary and administration officials offer demonstrably false statements as truth or ‘alternative facts.’
      - - -
     “History is repeating itself, this time with tools and media forms that did not exist a generation ago. But the goal is the same. The power of state-sanctioned propaganda, and its ability to destroy the credibility of independent media, is timeless for a simple reason: It works.” (Ref. 9)

Imperative to Destroy Democratic Institutions

     The one thing a dictator fears the most is democracy. Dictators like Hitler and Mussolini brought themselves to power by essentially discrediting and then destroying democracy in their pre-World-War II nations. The behavior of Donald Trump before, during and after the 2020 election followed the precedents set by these fascist dictators. He attempted to discredit the American election process through inuendo, outright lies, and threats. In this way, he followed the dictators’ script of casting himself as the sole defender of “the people” against a democratic system that was “rigged” to defeat their wishes. Never mind that the majority of Americans democratically voted him out of office. Never mind that not a shred of credible evidence supported Trumps’ charges of “fraud” or of a “rigged election”. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, the fascist dictators in Italy and Germany convinced enough people with their lies and propaganda to end up destroying democracy in those countries and to allowing the fascist dictatorships to come to power. It is a very sad fact, that so many Americans have bought into the lies, distortions and propaganda of Donald Trump and his devoted followers, thereby undermining and weakening the basic foundations of American democracy. Faith in democracy and the American way must be restored and the evil planted by Donald Trump must be uprooted and eliminated.

     Trump persistently lied about voter fraud, setting the stage for him to use emergency powers to seize control of the election or challenge the results if he lost. Trump repeatedly tweeted that mail-in voting would lead to fraudulent and rigged elections. After winning the 2016 presidential election while losing the popular vote, he claimed a landslide victory and said that Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote was due to “millions of people who voted illegally.”
     Trump even repeatedly suggested that he might remain in office after a second term and offered reason to doubt he’d leave peacefully after this first term. “Under the normal rules, I’ll be out in 2024, so we may have to go for an extra term,” he said at a pre-election rally. A year earlier, he remarked, “President for life . . . maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.” It’s a joke he tossed off on several occasions, and the power of suggestion was so strong in Trump and his followers that political opponents expressed serious concern that Trump might try to steal the election or contest the results, and not leave the White House if he lost.
     Like any despot, Trump believed that he had the power to do what he wanted, regardless of Congress or the courts. “I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,” he said. He also claimed to have the “absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department” and “the absolute right to PARDON myself.”
     Trump has displayed his dictatorial side by acting as if he owned our government and could fire any official who defended the law. He dismissed an FBI director and a deputy FBI director, as well as five inspectors general and U.S. attorneys, all of whom were investigating or considering either his abuse of power or the alleged crimes of his cronies. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who served as a national security aide at the White House until earlier this year and was up for a promotion, resigned from the military, citing “bullying, intimidation, and retaliation” after he testified under oath to Congress counter to Trump’s interests.
     That Donald Trump looked with favor upon dictatorships can be implied by his fawning over them while he denigrated the word’s democratic leaders. The oppressive leaders he has praised include North Korea’s Kim Jong Un (“He gets it. He totally gets it”); the Philippines’s Rodrigo Duterte (“What a great job you are doing”); Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman (“You have done a spectacular job”); and, of course, Russia’s Vladimir Putin (“You know what? Putin’s fine. He’s fine”). Meanwhile, he has attacked traditional U.S. alliances and allies, like NATO and Germany’s Angela Merkel (“Stupid”).[10]

Dictators and Fascism

     The word Fascism evokes thoughts of two of the most despicable dictators of the twentieth century, Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini. “Fascist movements tend to be, by their nature, autocratic and dictator-driven, with one central figure of power surrounded by layers of enforcers and a total lack of viable opposition. This means that they can seem unlikely to occur in systems of entrenched democratic election; but, in reality, fascists in the 20th century proved to be adept at manipulating democratic elections to get power, and then using their influence in office to gradually (or even rapidly) shift the state away from proper democratic operations. [Emphasis mine] Of course, that didn't mean they came into power quietly: the last free election in Italy for nearly 20 years, the general election of 1924, was won by Mussolini largely because he raised troops and threatened the other parties . . .
     “{Like those infamous Fascists, Donald Trump} has also deliberately fostered distrust in the electoral process and its legitimacy . . .
     “. . . Fascists have, in the past, managed to attain power because they position themselves as ‘anti-politics,’ as people who are going to cut through the corrupt current system, whatever it was, and give power back to the people. Politics has always been a relatively unpopular business, but fascism took its unpopularity and turned it into a serious political tool. . .
      - - -
     “This is one of the closest parallels to Trump's situation. . . {He represented himself as} the anti-politician, speaking off the cuff, giving emotional responses and ‘saying what's on his mind,’ even if what [was} on his mind {was} contradictory or deeply problematic. . .” [11]

     The parallels between Donald Trump and the Fascists dictators of yore are many and obvious. Both fostered distrust in democratic processes; both buried truth in a flood of falsehoods and distortions; both presented themselves as all-knowing and infallible. In the end, the Fascist dictators proved to be disastrous failures, especially for the countries they controlled. Today, we see Donald Trump in a rogues’ gallery that is made up of a whole load of dictators throughout history, including Putin and Erdogan and Orbán and Assad, who have abused constitutionalism and democracy to rationalize their abuse of power and their crimes against humanity.
     Donald Trump revealed similarities to other strongmen, a category in which Fascists like Hitler and Mussolini belong, as do Orbán, Erdogan, Putin, and their ilk. That Trump maintained his support by engaging in explicitly divisive appeals designed to pit groups against each other - particularly but not exclusively ethnic groups - also, of course, bears some similarity to what fascists did. And, of course, Trump tried to undermine various norms and institutions of democracy.
     Clearly, Trump used fascist-like tactics, from holding rallies to refresh the leader-follower bond to creating a “tribe” (MAGA hats, rituals like chanting “lock them up,” etc.) to unleashing a volume of propaganda without precedent by an American president. And Trump’s role models included leaders like Erdogan and Putin who were not exactly fascists, but something close: authoritarians, or strongman rulers who also use virility as a tool of domination. In the 21st century, fascist takeovers have been replaced by rulers who come to power through elections and then, over time, extinguish freedom. The authoritarian or dictatorial style of Trump captured how autocratic power works in the 21st century.
     You could legitimately call Trumpism a fascist social and political movement. Trumpism involves a cult of the leader, and Trump embodies that. Trump using fascist political tactics - there’s no question about that. He called for national restoration in the face of humiliations brought on by immigrants, liberals, liberal minorities, and leftists. He most certainly played the fascist playbook.[12]

     In truth, Donald Trump was probably not a fascist, but the question of whether or not he was (and still is) a would-be dictator remains open. History will ultimately determine the good or evil brought about by Donald Trump’s time in office as a would-be dictator.

Dictators Claim Credit for All Good Outcomes

     Like all dictators throughout history, Donald Trump was quick to claim credit for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) broaching the 30,000 mark for the first time at the end of November 2020. In truth, Joe Biden could have claimed the credit, since the event occurred immediately after his election and Trump’s defeat. “The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a landmark 30,000 for the first time . . . with investors cheering the expectation of a smooth presidential transition and fresh vaccine hopes. . . President Donald Trump was quick to claim responsibility for the boost, saying in a one-minute press conference: ‘That's a sacred number, 30,000. Nobody thought they'd ever see it. That's the 48th time we have broken records during the Trump administration.’ . . . The rally is at odds with claims Trump made during the election campaign that a Biden victory would crash stock markets.” (Ref. 13)

     Never mind the fact that the DJIA has constantly been on the rise for the last 75 years. Never mind the fact that nearly every president in the last 75 years can claim that the DJIA reached one or more new highs during their presidency. Never mind the fact that Joe Biden could have claimed that the DJIA reached a record high once it became clear that he had defeated Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Never mind any of the facts!

     One of Benito Mussolini’s claims of achievement was that “Mussolini made the trains run on time.” But the truth was that, while the Italian rail service did improve during the early portion of Mussolini’s rule, the improvements had more to do with people who pre-dated Mussolini than anything changed by his government.[14] Like all good dictators, Mussolini and his supporters boasted of the successes – both real and faked - and ignored and downplayed any hints of failures.

The Rise and Fall of a Would be Dictator

     With the defeat of Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election,we have witnessed the rise and fall of a 21st century american would-be dictator. The evidence of Trump’s dictatorial behavior and aspirations is clear for all to see - for all who are not too blind to see. Donald Trump came to power in 2016 and fell from power four short years later, thankfully, after only one term in office. His irrational and authoritarian behavior led to his rapid fall from power. The majority of the American electorate recognized the threat posed by Donald Trump and rejected his aspirations to become America’s first dictator.

     With his election defeat, Donald Trump once again demonstrated his aspirations of becoming this country’s first dictator. He refused to accept the decision of the American people to deny him a second term in office. He initiated and repeated the lie that the election was “stolen” from him. He ignored the disaster facing the American people by the Covid-19 pandemic. While the number of new cases of the virus were rising precipitously and thousands of Americas were dying from the disease, he did nothing to prepare for the distribution of the anti-virus vaccine. Twenty million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine were to have been administered by the end of 2020. Instead, only 4.5 million doses were actually given, While Trump was ranting and raving about having the election stolen from him, more than two-thirds of the 15 million coronavirus vaccines shipped within the United States went unused.[15] Instead of taking the lead in arranging for the rapid administration of the vaccine, the President was taking to Twitter to spread the falsehood that “the elections were rigged”. In spite of losing every attempt to get the voting reversed in the courts, he persisted in ignoring the truth and what was obvious to every thinking and unbiased person.

     When the idiots who blindly accepted Trump’s fabrications and fantasies stormed the United States Capital on 6 January 2021, President Trump, like any good dictator, refused to admonish his supporters and remained silent until late in the day when, after being told by President-elect Joseph Biden to do his duty and tell the rioters to stop and leave, the President belatedly advised the rioters “to go home”. But note that this poor excuse for a president did nothing to exercise his power and constitutional obligation as chief executive to cut short the rioting. Lest the “Dear Leader” offend any of his out-of-control supporters, he did not take any action nor activate any federal forces to stop the insurrection. While the rest of the world recoiled at the sight of America’s Congress – the symbol of true democracy - being forced to cease doing its constitutional duties by an uncontrolled group of rioters, our would-be dictator sat silent in the White House watching on television the lawless assault on the Capital Building and reveling in his narcissistic perception of the adulation that he saw as being heaped on him by the uncontrolled mob. The one question remaining some 14 days before Donald Trump thankfully leaves office is: How long will it take for America to recover from the disaster created by this would-be dictator?


  1. Can we stop tiptoeing around the fact that Trump is behaving like a dictator?,
    Lucian K. Truscott IV, salon, 15 February 2020.
  2. Trump’s Post-Election Tactics Put Him in Unsavory Company, Andrew Higgins,
    The New York Times, 11 November 2020.
  3. America must reclaim democracy damaged by Trump, Jeff Robbins, Boston Herald, Page 17,
    24 November 2020.
  4. Donald Trump's administration acting 'more akin to a dictatorship' sparks growing alarm as he denies election defeat, Stephen Collinson, CNN, 11 November 2020.
  5. Trump claimed he knew ‘more than the generals.’ Now they want nothing to do with him.,
    Josh Israel, THINKPROGRESS, 3 December 2018.
  6. Trump fires head of U.S. election cybersecurity who debunked conspiracy theories,
    Kevin Collier and Katy Tur and Julia Ainsley and Ken Dilanian, NBC NEWS,
    18 November 2020.
  7. Strongman leaders take defeat poorly — just like Trump, Ruth Ben-Ghiat,
    The Washington Post, 9 November 2020.
  8. Suppressing free press is 'how dictators get started': Senator McCain, Michael Dalder, Reuters, 17 February 2017.
  9. History Repeats: Propaganda and the Destruction of the Free Press, Jeff Nesbit, U.S. News,
    26 October 2017.
  10. Twelve signs Trump would try to run a fascist dictatorship in a second term,
    Jonathan Greenberg, The Washington Post, 10 July 2020.
  11. Is Donald Trump A Fascist?, J.R. Thorpe, Bustle, 18 October 2016.
  12. Is Trump a fascist? 8 experts weigh in., Dylan Matthews, Vox, 23 October 2020.
  13. Trump Claims Credit for Dow's Record High, but Investors Hail Smooth Transition, COVID Vaccines, Lucy Harley-McKeown, Newsweek, 25 November 2020.
  14. Did Mussolini Get the Trains Running on Time?, Robert Wilde, ThoughtCo., 21 March 2019.
  15. 15.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines distributed, 4.5 million administered: U.S. CDC, Reuters, 4 January 2021.

  7 January 2021 {Article 454; Politics_63}    
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