Trump: authoritarian, just another neoliberal republican, or both?
I review Donald Trump’s actions as president to evaluate the extent to which he differs from longstanding Republican Party policies. I find that except for trade and immigration he has furthered existing Republican desires in the fields of tax cuts, deregulation, weakening labor unions, and the appointment of rightwing judges. I then turn to the question of whether Trump is an authoritarian. I show that while his rhetoric is an escalation of previous Republican racial demagoguery, Trump benefits more than he adds to his party’s decades-long strategy of suppressing minority and young voters, vulgarizing political discourse and normalizing brazen lying by candidates and officials, obstructing Democratic officeholders, and allowing unlimited campaign spending by rich people and corporations. I conclude that Trump is now the head of an increasingly authoritarian political party rather than a self-generated strongman. This reduces the insights one can gain from comparisons with rulers like Hitler, Putin or Erdogan.
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