There’s no failure of the imagination among us as to the horrors a Trump dictatorship would entail. It’s not a problem of how to explain it to people in simple terms. People understand what a Trump dictatorship means, and some people, way too many people, want precisely that.
Their hatred of certain groups of people is far more important to them than whatever suffering a Trump dictatorship would deliberately or accidentally visit on them personally.
And Trump is calling on those supporters of his to “guard the vote,” which clearly means to intimidate the vote, to harass the vote, to suppress the vote.
At a recent town hall with Donald Trump, pathetic friend Sean Hannity tried in vain to get the aspiring dictator to reassure voters that he would not be a dictator in his second term in the White House. Hannity did not read the room correctly. The people in the audience cheered and clapped when Trump said he would be a dictator on Day One.
And only on Day One. Then on Day Two, he would magically switch his style to the kind of fair and sane leadership that he has no track record for whatsoever.
Matt Ford recaps it for New Republic thus:
“They want to call you a dictator,” Hannity told Trump. “Do you in any way have any plans whatsoever, if reelected [to the position of] president, to abuse power? To break the law? To use the government to go after people?” The host referred to a wave of recent reporting that highlighted Trump’s authoritarian goals if he retakes the White House next year, which would build on the authoritarian steps and impulses he took during his first term.
The easy, normal answer would have been to say, “Of course not, Sean” or “I love American democracy.” Trump tried to evade the question at first by complaining about President Biden, but Hannity was unusually determined to get a straight answer out of him. He circled back to the subject minutes later: “You are promising America tonight, you would never abuse power as retribution against anybody?”
Hannity was practically begging Trump to deny he would ever do such a thing. Alas, Trump refused to take his cue.
“Except on Day One,” he replied, to half-hearted cheers and laughs from the friendly audience. The former [Oval Office occupant] seemed to find the whole thing amusing. “This guy, he says, ‘You’re not going to be a dictator, are you?’” Trump joked to the crowd, motioning at Hannity. “I said, ‘No, no, no, other than Day One.’ We’re closing the border. And we’re drilling, drilling, drilling. After that, I’m not a dictator.”
The cheers were quite full-hearted, in my opinion. That’s the sense I got from the clip Seth Meyers played in his late night show, which the comedian jokingly plans to rename Late Night Snack with Seth Meyers and rebrand as an innocent cooking show with no political content.
But when you displease a dictator today, your relationship to him yesterday doesn’t matter. In a Trump dictatorship, a long-time vocal critic like Seth Meyers would be treated with the same cruelty and violence as a former flunky who only recently fell out of favor.
Liz Cheney’s warnings about a Trump dictatorship have gotten more coverage than Hillary Clinton’s. Despite her concerns in 2016, since her experience as secretary of state gave her direct knowledge of dictators around the world at the time, she accepted the results of the Electoral College and conceded to Trump gracefully.
Clinton thought that the guardrails of the Constitution would hold against Trump’s onslaught. And they did. Barely. Now the enablers of Trump’s planned dictatorship know where they need to apply pressure to make Trump’s dreams for the death of democracy a reality.
It has crossed my mind that Hannity did read the room at the town hall correctly, that he understood that the people there want a Trump dictatorship. Maybe that’s not the room he’s concerned with. Maybe he’s more worried about swing voters who don’t find the idea of a Trump dictatorship all that palatable.
For the sake of all of us, we hope that those swing voters vote against a Trump dictatorship, and that their votes are counted. And that there are enough of them in the purple states to outnumber the voters who want a Trump dictatorship.