Trump Lays Out the Welcome Mat to Dangerous Dictators.
Over the past two years Trump has hosted Viktor Orban from Hungary, Recep Tayyip Erdogan from Turkey, and Jair Bolsonaro from Brazil, at the White House. He’s invited Xi Jinping, Rodrigo Duterte, and Vladimir Putin to come as well. And, of course, he routinely tells the world that he loves the murderous, vile Kim Jong Un.
These are men who jail journalists, endorse political violence, and blatantly use their influence and power to harm their citizens. Something else they have in common? They are all counted as friends of this American president.
He sees them as strong leaders, in total control, whose people “stand up at attention” when they speak. Trump wants that for himself, he emulates these dictators and sees their axis of evil as an exclusive club that he so desperately wants to be a part of. America must not be dragged into the coalition of despotism.
Even when Trump isn’t openly admiring these dictators, he empowers them through his silence. He refuses to condemn their abuses, he refuses to stand up for their victims, and refuses to push them, even privately, to respect human life and liberty.
When the Saudi Arabian government killed dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at their consulate in Istanbul, Trump refused to condemn them for fear of ruining an oil deal with the Saudi crown prince.
He has never commented on President Xi’s detainment of millions of Muslims in concentration camps. But he has praised Xi for removing term limits to become “president for life.” He even suggested we try that here in America.
We often shrug off the idea that Trump is an authoritarian because he hasn’t jailed his political enemies or murdered his critics. But that ignores the many ways he emulates these dictators here at home. No, he doesn’t have their power, he can’t match their abuses. That’s because America’s constitution and institutions still restrain presidents from their worst ambitions. But that safety net is struggling under the weight of his daily attacks.
Make no mistake, Trump is jealous of these dictators he admires, and that’s an overt threat to our democracy and Stand Up Republic will always defend our nation against authoritarianism.