In a bleak warning to America, Andrew Sullivan has penned an important piece looking at the incredibly disturbing behavior of the president over the past couple of weeks -- behavior that looks uncannily like a transition from bumbling buffoon to raging tyrant. Citing Plato's warning in Republic about the seamless morphing of a late-stage democracy into tyranny, Sullivan believes America is on the brink of a catastrophic descent into the unthinkable.
Here was Sullivan's summary of Plato's 'tyrant':
“In private and public, and grant[s] freedom from debts and distribute[s] land to the people and those around himself” (or, say, a trillion-dollar unfunded tax cut). He aims to please. But then, as he accustoms himself to power, and feels more comfortable, “he suspects certain men of having free thoughts and not putting up with his ruling … Some of those who helped in setting him up and are in power — the manliest among them — speak frankly to him and to one another, criticizing what is happening … Then the tyrant must gradually do away with all of them, if he’s going to rule, until he has left neither friend nor enemy of any worth whatsoever.”
The parallels are uncanny, and only the most rabid of Trump supporters cannot see what is happening to their country.
This is the second phase of tyranny, after the more benign settling-in: the purge. Any constraints that had been in place to moderate the tyrant’s whims are set aside; no advice that counters his own gut impulses can be tolerated. And so, over the last couple of weeks, we have seen the president fire Rex Tillerson and Andrew McCabe, two individuals who simply couldn’t capitulate to the demand that they obey only Trump, rather than the country as well.
And because of this small gesture of defiance, they deserved especial public humiliation. Tillerson was warned of his impending doom while on the toilet — a nice, sadistic touch. McCabe was fired hours before his retirement, a public execution also fraught with venom. What kind of man is this? We have become numb to it, but we should never forget how our president is a man who revels in his own cruelty. Revenge is not a dish best served cold for him. It’s the reddest and rawest of meats.
Trump is clearly feeling cornered a Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe creeps closer and closer towards him and his inner circle, so he is ridding his administration of anyone not completely loyal to him. To the sane, this looks suicidal -- another example of Trump incriminating himself by behaving exactly as a guilty man would. But without constraints, Trump can do as he pleases. While Republicans control Congress, there is not a lot anyone can do to stop this march toward tyranny. But come November, the American people must rescue their country from a man who does not believe in the rule of law, does not care about the damage he is doing to his country, and may well be working for the interest of a dictator who knows something about him we don't.
America is still a nation of laws, and still a nation that respects the outcome of free and fair elections. While this remains true, the only thing to do is vote. Vote as if your nation depended on it, because given the president's behavior these past few weeks, it almost certainly does.