After reading the news that Trump called Egypt’s authoritarian “president,” Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, his “favorite dictator” at the G7 summit in Biarritz late last month, I went to check my calendar to see if somehow time fast-forwarded to April 1st. I can confirm that it did not, but that it is Friday the 13th.
The Wall Street Journal reported the following: “Mr. Trump looked over a gathering of American and Egyptian officials and called out in a loud voice: ‘Where’s my favorite dictator?’ Several people who were in the room at the time said they heard the question. The witnesses said they believed the president made the comment jokingly, but said his question was met by a stunned silence.”
One could argue that Trump merely made a tactless joke, but that would require more optimism than could exist in a single human. Trump’s mouth has two settings: lying and unfiltered. Guess which direction the switch was when he made this comment.
We’ve made note of Trump’s harrowing admiration of dictators on Palmer Report more times than I can remember, but this is the first time he’s said anything on the subject this brazen. Trump admires dictators. Fact. Trump probably has trading cards for each of them. So what does this mean for us?
If nothing else, it’s a strong bit of evidence towards our suspicion that Trump admires dictators. But why does he admire them? The obvious answer is that he wants to emulate them. He gets a primal satisfaction from all things that signal he has power, and of course dictators have all the power in their respective countries. Dictatorship is his ideal political form, and moving as close to that as he can while still remaining in office is his goal.
If democracy is good for the people because it gives us power, it necessarily does so at Trump’s expense and disapproval (voter suppression, election meddling, etc. are his attempts at grabbing power back). If the judicial and legislative branches check and balance his administration, it does so at Trump’s expense. If anyone in his executive branch works contrary to his wishes, he just fires them and replaces them with a loyalist. Checks and balances separate us from dictatorships, monarchies, kleptocracies, and more, and they’re absolutely essential to our system functioning healthily. Trump’s worst enemy is democracy. The best way to oppose him is to vote him out in 2020.