Donald J. Trump’s surprising election to president – and again, if you don’t agree with that assessment, you should have quintupled some of your money by betting on him – scared a lot of us, and rightfully so. Although we still need to wonder if he will push North Korea or even China too far and get us all nuked, the threat of an American totalitarian state that concerned many, including me, has faded dramatically. Why? To see that, consider the following.
First, a solid wall of opposition, with The New York Times and Washington Post in the middle, has formed. These front-line publications have been emitting a steady stream of anti-Trump editorials and opinion pieces. Many of these items are essentially pointless, decrying him for being himself or bemoaning his lack of interest in liberal-appeal issues such as climate change, but others critique his actions from his own stated standpoints, or from what they consider reasonable presidential behavior. The writings’ overall effect is to show that nationally-respected commentators are watching, documenting, and freely disapproving of what he does. There was nothing similar at all in 1933 Germany.
Second, Trump is consistently coming off not as evil but as incompetent. He, as expected, shows no inclination or even ability to negotiate with his political opposition. He is not assembling any sort of authoritarian government, or even a full government at all, with the number of appointments he has made being far smaller than that from even his most anti-bureaucracy predecessors.
Third, as shown by his failure to repeal Obamacare, our federal checks and balances are still working effectively. In the House and Senate he has enough opposition within his own party, let alone from Democrats, to stop him from dictating anything which would consolidate power into the executive branch. The addition of Neil Gorsuch means only that the Supreme Court is ideologically similar to what it was before the vacancy he filled materialized, when it was hardly a source of fascist legal interpretations.
Fourth, Trump is lacking in solid allies. Although he has done some things which should please true conservatives, such as approving the Keystone pipeline, his previous hostility toward them has made those in Congress at most temporarily on his side. Among constituents, though surveys show he has lost only a small percentage of his supporters, he is gaining even fewer. It is possible that, during his first term, he will reach a point where he will be able to rely on nobody, with the Goering, Himmler, and Goebbels equivalents nowhere to be seen.
Fifth, with all that said, the outcome of Trump’s time in office is still very much unknown. We know remarkably little about which ideological segment will benefit most from his failures in the 2018 and 2020 elections. His current scandals, especially given a Republican-dominated legislature, do not project to be nearly sufficient for impeachment, yet the Predictwise site gives him a 49% chance of being out of office before 2020, and, at sportsbook.ag, you can win $10 for every $18.50 you wager that he will complete four full years. The latter site gives the same odds for a Republican or a Democrat to win the next presidential contest, with the most likely individual winner, after Trump, being Democrat Elizabeth Warren, at 8 to 1 against. That’s all we know – stay tuned, as that could change suddenly… and unpredictably.