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How to Build an Autocracy
The preconditions are present in the U.S. today. Here’s the playbook Donald Trump could use to set the country down a path toward illiberalism.
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It’s 2021, and President Donald Trump will shortly be sworn in for his second term. The 45th president has visibly aged over the past four years. He rests heavily on his daughter Ivanka’s arm during his infrequent public appearances.

Fortunately for him, he did not need to campaign hard for reelection. His has been a popular presidency: Big tax cuts, big spending, and big deficits have worked their familiar expansive magic. Wages have grown strongly in the Trump years, especially for men without a college degree, even if rising inflation is beginning to bite into the gains. The president’s supporters credit his restrictive immigration policies and his TrumpWorks infrastructure program.

The president’s critics, meanwhile, have found little hearing for their protests and complaints. A Senate investigation of Russian hacking during the 2016 presidential campaign sputtered into inconclusive partisan wrangling. Concerns about Trump’s purported conflicts of interest excited debate in Washington but never drew much attention from the wider American public.

Allegations of fraud and self-dealing in the TrumpWorks program, and elsewhere, have likewise been shrugged off. The president regularly tweets out news of factory openings and big hiring announcements: “I’m bringing back your jobs,” he has said over and over. Voters seem to have believed him—and are grateful.

Most Americans intuit that their president and his relatives have become vastly wealthier over the past four years. But rumors of graft are easy to dismiss. Because Trump has never released his tax returns, no one really knows.

Anyway, doesn’t everybody do it? On the eve of the 2018 congressional elections, WikiLeaks released years of investment statements by prominent congressional Democrats indicating that they had long earned above-market returns. As the air filled with allegations of insider trading and crony capitalism, the public subsided into weary cynicism. The Republicans held both houses of Congress that November, and Trump loyalists shouldered aside the pre-Trump leadership.

The business community learned its lesson early. “You work for me, you don’t criticize me,” the president was reported to have told one major federal contractor, after knocking billions off his company’s stock-market valuation with an angry tweet. Wise business leaders take care to credit Trump’s personal leadership for any good news, and to avoid saying anything that might displease the president or his family.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Constitution, Democracy, Donald Trump 
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  1. This is garbage. Sheer projection on the part of the Left.

    This is the Left projecting its own corruption and control of our world into yet another fake story, this time a story of an imaginary future.

    They just can’t let go, can they?

    Read More
    • Agree: Amasius
    • Replies: @anonymous
    Trump's businesses have been hurt by his political ventures. By 2021 he will be old enough that such things aren't likely to be his primary concerns.

    This is just silly stuff. Especially coming from a dickhead zio-con like Dave Frum. This stuff has the whiff of desperation now. It's getting pathetic.

    First hitler, then Russian spy... now the allegation that he may possibly become corrupt and do some insider trading in the future... maybe...

    Who knows Dave?... you might be on to something here. Glad you are on the case!
    , @Anon
    Please criticize the left as much as you wish, but do not refer to this sleazy, foreign implant neo-conservative as one of the left. He is but one of the gang of neo-cons who sent US troops to fight for Israel in Iraq, and now is pushing for more US blood to be spilled in Syria. He is a Neo-Con par excellence.
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  2. The liberals have turned the meaning of liberalism on its head so its not sure to me what illiberalism would mean at this point.

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  3. anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Buzz Mohawk
    This is garbage. Sheer projection on the part of the Left.

    This is the Left projecting its own corruption and control of our world into yet another fake story, this time a story of an imaginary future.

    They just can't let go, can they?

    Trump’s businesses have been hurt by his political ventures. By 2021 he will be old enough that such things aren’t likely to be his primary concerns.

    This is just silly stuff. Especially coming from a dickhead zio-con like Dave Frum. This stuff has the whiff of desperation now. It’s getting pathetic.

    First hitler, then Russian spy… now the allegation that he may possibly become corrupt and do some insider trading in the future… maybe…

    Who knows Dave?… you might be on to something here. Glad you are on the case!

    Read More
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  4. anon says: • Disclaimer

    If he works this magic:

    Wages have grown strongly in the Trump years, especially for men without a college degree

    most voters will be willing to toss aside the constitution for the comfort of good living standards. This voter will be, though I am not hurting.

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  5. David Fraud Frum was such a loser that even the dismal George Dubya Bush felt compelled fired him and so he did.

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  6. Hunsdon says:

    As soon as someone stops listening to Frum, it’s an autocracy.

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  7. As long as all of the corruption and thievery is perpertrated by their side, these schmucks have no qualms about it.
    They have no qualms as to the installation of a leftist PC autocracy.

    Authenticjazzman “Mensa” society member since 1973, airborne qualified US army vet, and pro jazz artist.

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    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
    Agree.

    Instead of this entirely speculative and tendentious piece, Frum could have written a FACTUAL column about the last eight years:


    ... big spending ... big deficits ... . Wages have grown strongly .... for useless bureaucrats and professional welfare sponges ... .

    The president’s critics, meanwhile, have found little hearing for their protests and complaints. ...

    Allegations of fraud and self-dealing in the Secretary of State, and elsewhere, have likewise been shrugged off. “That's not Who We Are” he has said over and over. Voters seem to have believed him—and are grateful.

    Most Americans intuit that their president and his parasitic cronies have become vastly wealthier over the past eight years. But rumors of graft are easy to dismiss. Because the Clinton Foundation has never been audited, no one really knows.

    ... As the air filled with allegations of insider trading and crony capitalism, the public subsided into weary cynicism. ...

    The business community learned its lesson early. “You work for me, you don’t criticize me,” the president was reported to have told the entire automotive, banking and "green" "energy" industries after unconstitutionally taking them all over in a Federal Night of the Long Knives. Wise business leaders take care to credit Obama's personal leadership for any good news, and to avoid saying anything that might displease the president or his the entire Democrat-media complex.
     

    Etc.

    But Frum didn't write it because he is a useless PoS whose main concern is ensuring his access to the best cocktail parties

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  8. @Authenticjazzman
    As long as all of the corruption and thievery is perpertrated by their side, these schmucks have no qualms about it.
    They have no qualms as to the installation of a leftist PC autocracy.

    Authenticjazzman "Mensa" society member since 1973, airborne qualified US army vet, and pro jazz artist.

    Agree.

    Instead of this entirely speculative and tendentious piece, Frum could have written a FACTUAL column about the last eight years:

    … big spending … big deficits … . Wages have grown strongly …. for useless bureaucrats and professional welfare sponges … .

    The president’s critics, meanwhile, have found little hearing for their protests and complaints. …

    Allegations of fraud and self-dealing in the Secretary of State, and elsewhere, have likewise been shrugged off. “That’s not Who We Are” he has said over and over. Voters seem to have believed him—and are grateful.

    Most Americans intuit that their president and his parasitic cronies have become vastly wealthier over the past eight years. But rumors of graft are easy to dismiss. Because the Clinton Foundation has never been audited, no one really knows.

    … As the air filled with allegations of insider trading and crony capitalism, the public subsided into weary cynicism. …

    The business community learned its lesson early. “You work for me, you don’t criticize me,” the president was reported to have told the entire automotive, banking and “green” “energy” industries after unconstitutionally taking them all over in a Federal Night of the Long Knives. Wise business leaders take care to credit Obama’s personal leadership for any good news, and to avoid saying anything that might displease the president or his the entire Democrat-media complex.

    Etc.

    But Frum didn’t write it because he is a useless PoS whose main concern is ensuring his access to the best cocktail parties

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  9. mp says:

    A Senate investigation of Russian hacking during the 2016 presidential…

    Frum is a blathering idiot. He attempts to make something out of nothing, and then talks about it as if he has something meaningful to say. Really, has anyone anywhere demonstrated anything reliable about how Russia “hacked” into the election? How do you hack an election? I don’t even know what that could mean. Frum, the Atlantic, and most of the other fellow traveling media are lower than the lowest bottom feeders.

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  10. One of the main themes of Frum’s article is that “Trump will use the presidency to enrich himself and his family.” What, on the basis of past experience, does he believe Hillary Clinton would have done had she been elected? Influence peddling was and is the stock in trade of the Clintons. There is very little in Trump’s history to suggest that he has engaged in such “crony capitalism,” or approves of it. If there were it would already have been in the headlines.

    The likelihood is that his billionaire status makes Trump less rather than more susceptible to financial corruption. Even if he were inclined to engage in it, a payoff would have to be very large to attract his interest. Below a certain level, it wouldn’t be worth the bother. Yet above that level, the likelihood of detection rises proportionately. Quite apart from any moral scruples involved, in practical terms the risk is too great. Can you imagine someone like Trump being suborned by a $100,000 bribe conveyed through a rigged commodity trade? Hillary Clinton was.

    Every variety of abuse of power Frum says Trump might commit already has been done by Democrats. He mentions the prospect that he will harass political enemies through tax audits. What does he suppose Obama did during his eight years? Frum seems to fear that the political techniques pioneered by the Clintons and Obama will now be used by the other side. I see little evidence of that so far, and have to conclude that he is projecting like a drive-in theater.

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  11. Frum is an idiot. Within two or three paragraphs, an intelligent reader realizes that Frum could have written exactly the same screed about our first Black President, Bill Clinton, or about our first affirmative action president, Barak Hussein Obama. OTOH none of this really matters, since no intelligent reader would bother looking at anything with Frum’s byline.

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  12. Bottom line is : These unredeemable democrats are simply insane, and any disecting of their actions and motivations are nothing but exercizes in futility.
    The only effective way to view the current political scenario is to consider them as actual enemies and to act accordingly.
    All of the concilliation and backing down in the world will not turn them around and bring them over to our side, this is a fight to the end in front of us.
    Trying to be civil and “Fair” only induces them to hit further below the belt.

    Authenticjazzman “Mensa” society member since 1973, airborne qualified US army vet and pro jazz artist.

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  13. Jason Liu says:

    At this point, illiberalism is probably what the west needs

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  14. Holy shit they are really triggered. And here I thought David Frum was a right wing conservative. This is written in the same style as the pre election garbage, but way more hyper everything is so perfectly placed, its the back to the future of opinion pieces.

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  15. Randal says:

    What a bizarre piece of self-evident nonsense, even coming from a known partisan buffoon like Frum!

    Basically in this long piece he argues that Trump could get himself re-elected by delivering what American voters want and this would somehow constitute autocracy rather than democracy. Presumably (though he doesn’t say as much openly) just because he would be doing it by way of policies of which Frum disapproves.

    The mainstream media and Democrat/neocon commentariat just keep discrediting themselves further and further as their hysteria over Trump’s failure to vanish in the face of their usually effective magic accusation cards (“racist”, “antisemite”, “sexist” etc) grows.

    It would be just great entertainment were it not for two things. First, there’s no guarantee they won’t succeed in overturning the election result by nefarious means. Second, there will probably come a time when effective opposition to Trump is desperately needed, and they’ve already gone a long way towards pre-discrediting any opposition to him.

    Donald Trump, however, represents something much more radical. A president who plausibly owes his office at least in part to a clandestine intervention by a hostile foreign intelligence service?

    OK, here’s Frum’s straight up admission of personal idiocy.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Authenticjazzman
    " There will probably come a time when effective opposition to Trump is desperately needed"

    Look obviously you are still in deep pain because of HC's election loss, but such BS as this is simply over the top.
    Just wtf will we need "effective opposition" to the guy who is trying to wrest the country out of the clutches of the crazy leftists, and back on the road to sanity and prosperity.

    Authenticjazzman "Mensa" society member since 1973, airborne qualified US army vet and pro jazz artist.

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  16. Jake says:

    David Frum is revolting in almost every way.

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  17. The Bush era neocons creeping from under the rocks where they lay in hiding for 8 years. What a crock of sh…t as the Brits would say.

    First 16 comments above are great comments! Keep them coming folks!

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  18. Parsifal says:

    Good God, that opening act contains just about every wet dream I have about the Trump presidency! The only way it could get any better is if somehow Trump learns to Force-choke people and then applies it to reporters and anchors.

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  19. @Randal
    What a bizarre piece of self-evident nonsense, even coming from a known partisan buffoon like Frum!

    Basically in this long piece he argues that Trump could get himself re-elected by delivering what American voters want and this would somehow constitute autocracy rather than democracy. Presumably (though he doesn't say as much openly) just because he would be doing it by way of policies of which Frum disapproves.

    The mainstream media and Democrat/neocon commentariat just keep discrediting themselves further and further as their hysteria over Trump's failure to vanish in the face of their usually effective magic accusation cards ("racist", "antisemite", "sexist" etc) grows.

    It would be just great entertainment were it not for two things. First, there's no guarantee they won't succeed in overturning the election result by nefarious means. Second, there will probably come a time when effective opposition to Trump is desperately needed, and they've already gone a long way towards pre-discrediting any opposition to him.

    Donald Trump, however, represents something much more radical. A president who plausibly owes his office at least in part to a clandestine intervention by a hostile foreign intelligence service?
     
    OK, here's Frum's straight up admission of personal idiocy.

    ” There will probably come a time when effective opposition to Trump is desperately needed”

    Look obviously you are still in deep pain because of HC’s election loss, but such BS as this is simply over the top.
    Just wtf will we need “effective opposition” to the guy who is trying to wrest the country out of the clutches of the crazy leftists, and back on the road to sanity and prosperity.

    Authenticjazzman “Mensa” society member since 1973, airborne qualified US army vet and pro jazz artist.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  20. Anon says: • Disclaimer
    @Buzz Mohawk
    This is garbage. Sheer projection on the part of the Left.

    This is the Left projecting its own corruption and control of our world into yet another fake story, this time a story of an imaginary future.

    They just can't let go, can they?

    Please criticize the left as much as you wish, but do not refer to this sleazy, foreign implant neo-conservative as one of the left. He is but one of the gang of neo-cons who sent US troops to fight for Israel in Iraq, and now is pushing for more US blood to be spilled in Syria. He is a Neo-Con par excellence.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
    Neocons like Frum can be traced back to Trotskyites and their kin. Their origins are very much to the left.

    Admittedly, "the Left" is too broad a brush, but let's not be fooled any longer that these chameleons pretending to be working the the good of the United States were ever at all a legitimate part of the Right.

    They infiltrated the Republican party and used it to their own ends, plunging our country into unpayable debt and causing countless deaths in a Middle East ripped apart by them.

    They gave us the globalist, interventionist, open-borders ideology from which we now struggle to extricate ourselves. They have buried themselves deep into our state, and they are doing their damnedest now to prevent us from cleaning house.

    Their tactics include writing sleazy articles like the one above.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  21. @Anon
    Please criticize the left as much as you wish, but do not refer to this sleazy, foreign implant neo-conservative as one of the left. He is but one of the gang of neo-cons who sent US troops to fight for Israel in Iraq, and now is pushing for more US blood to be spilled in Syria. He is a Neo-Con par excellence.

    Neocons like Frum can be traced back to Trotskyites and their kin. Their origins are very much to the left.

    Admittedly, “the Left” is too broad a brush, but let’s not be fooled any longer that these chameleons pretending to be working the the good of the United States were ever at all a legitimate part of the Right.

    They infiltrated the Republican party and used it to their own ends, plunging our country into unpayable debt and causing countless deaths in a Middle East ripped apart by them.

    They gave us the globalist, interventionist, open-borders ideology from which we now struggle to extricate ourselves. They have buried themselves deep into our state, and they are doing their damnedest now to prevent us from cleaning house.

    Their tactics include writing sleazy articles like the one above.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
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