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Despite Hysteria, Trump Trending Less Authoritarian Than Obama

Friday, February 24, 2017 7:50
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At least that’s David French’s take on the matter:

Lost in most of the coverage of President Trump’s decision to rescind the Obama administration’s transgender mandates is a fundamental legal reality — the Trump administration just relinquished federal authority over gender-identity policy in the nation’s federally funded schools and colleges.

A president is “authoritarian” not when he’s angry or impulsive or incompetent or tweets too much. He’s authoritarian when he seeks to expand his own power beyond constitutional limits. In this regard, the Obama administration — though far more polite and restrained in most of its public comments — was truly one of our more authoritarian.

I agree with this almost entirely. In rhetoric throughout the campaign, and even often since, Trump has sounded very authoritarian. It seemed that his tendencies toward heavy-handed exertions of authority were being revealed on a near daily basis.

However, where has this talk led? Well, in most cases, toward rollbacks of federal authority. That is certainly not the sort of thing that a committed authoritarian would prefer to do.

I will not typically look a gift horse in the mouth, and don’t now, but I can’t help but consider why things are turning out in such stark contrast to Trump’s rhetoric? I would posit 3 possibilities:

1) Trump’s rhetoric is wholly self-ego-boosting. He does X, but talks it up in authoritarian terms because he thinks it makes him sound (and makes him feel) stronger and more powerful. He doesn’t really realize, or care, that many don’t want their president to sound authoritarian. It’s all for himself.

2) His aides are moderating his tendencies. This is much as his supporters said would be the case. He talks boldly (sometimes outright crazy talk), but his aides tell him what he can actually do, resulting in policy that is pretty normal.

3) It’s still too early and any judgments at this point are moot. He hasn’t been stymied yet on a major act that didn’t have an easy and legal workaround. What happens when he is, is anyone’s guess.

As I said, it is still early, but as of this moment, he is not acting fascistically as many of his leftist opponents would have you believe. And their accusations aren’t even hyperbole; they are outright 180 degrees from the truth, at this time.


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