I’m terrified of what Donald Trump might do as president, but I’m even more terrified of the system that has the power to set him — or anyone else — up as a ruler over me.
As Trump makes statements that are increasingly insane and scary, I see people all over social media posting those words and pointing out how scary they are. Their outrage makes it clear that they’re saying to Trump supporters, “See? Don’t you get it? The man is crazy. Quit supporting him!”
I’m starting to realize that a lot of people can’t accept that a substantial portion of the voting public — a vast majority, I’d argue — are delusional in very serious ways. They believe that if Trump supporters just understand how monstrous his beliefs are — and how insane he is — his support would evaporate.
Trump is exactly what a huge percentage of people in this country want. Think about that for a moment.
Millions and millions of people want a “strong man” who will promise to fix all their problems. They want someone who will “stand up” to other governments, threatening those nations, bullying them and bombing other people who don’t bend to his will. They want someone who will protect them from foreigners who scare them. They want someone who will pander to their darkest, ugliest prejudices — because they are too ignorant to know how evil their beliefs are.
Most of those who oppose Trump realize he’s crazy and scary, but they support some other candidate — one of a group of people who I find just as scary for different reasons.
I still don’t think Trump will ultimately be elected — for reasons I’ve outlined — but every time there’s a terrorist attack, his odds get better, simply because people who don’t understand relative risk are getting more and more afraid.
Trump is merely a symptom of a much bigger problem. At its essence, democracy is mob rule. A system that hands dictatorial powers to one person (or any group) over everyone else is wrong, no matter how that person is selected.
A system that gives a group of people the power to take your money and force you to obey their rules is immoral.
Yes, Trump is scary, but any system which has the power to give you orders and coerce your obedience is just as scary, even if it’s a nice, smiling man or woman with good intentions. It’s just that you’ve been brainwashed to accept this system, so you don’t object to it — as long as that person acts more sophisticated and more reasonable.
It’s true that a president doesn’t have complete powers to rule, although pretty much every president ends up wishing he had such powers. But a modern president is more and more like an emperor. (When is the last time one of our many wars was declared by Congress, as required by the Constitution?) Even if you just use him as a symbol for the larger government structure, though, it’s a complex system that hands power to a group of people — through a series of majority-rules elections — to control you. With force when necessary.
So, yes, Donald Trump is scary. I fear that a President Trump could drag us into bigger wars and destroy even more of our rights. I think he’s a fascist who is sounding more and more like a modern-day Hitler. But even if I agreed with what a president and Congress want to do, that wouldn’t make it moral to impose my will — or the will of any majority — on those who don’t want to obey or participate.
The second point is that if you think the emergence of someone such as Donald Trump — or Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders or Sarah Palin or whoever your nightmare scenario is — means there’s a bug in the system, you misunderstand. The problem is that candidates who represent the darkest desires of the populace aren’t a bug. They’re a feature of democracy.
Crazy and scary politicians are the primary feature of any system which allows the populist majority to choose someone who represents their fears and greed most clearly.
Donald Trump scares me, but every candidate scares me. Even more, any system that hands power to anyone — even a saint with my best interests at heart — is immoral.
Don’t fear Donald Trump. Fear the coercive state, no matter who is at the controls of the evil machinery.
Note: On a related point, I’ve recently argued that if you want to understand the Trump phenomenon, you have to have empathy for his supporters and understand why they feel desperate for a strong man.