Free and democratic societies, historically, come to an end when the people freely and democratically vote for an authoritarian leader to end freedom and democracy. (Think Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler, Lenin. . . .) Now Donald Trump is saying that he wants to limit the First Amendment by changing the libel laws so that journalists and others who write “negative” things can be punished.
Trump surely lacks the magnitude of those historical tyrants, but the public’s impulse to turn in time of disillusionment to “a strong leader” who will suspend their rights continues.
After the jump, George Will catalogues Trump’s authoritarian statements and calls establishment Republicans like Chris Christie who are now supporting him to account.
From George Will, The albatross of a Trump endorsement – The Washington Post:
On Friday, during a long stream of semi-consciousness in Fort Worth, this man who as president would nominate members of the federal judiciary vowed to “open up” libel laws to make it easier to sue — to intimidate and punish — people who write “negative” things. Well.
Trump, the thin-skinned tough guy, resembles a campus crybaby who has wandered out of his “safe space.” It is not news that he has neither respect for nor knowledge of the Constitution, and he probably is unaware that he would have to “open up” many Supreme Court First Amendment rulings in order to achieve his aim. His obvious aim is to chill free speech, for the comfort of the political class, of which he is now a gaudy ornament. . . .
More than anything Marco Rubio said about Trump in Houston, it was Rubio’s laughter at Trump that galled the perhaps-bogus billionaire. Like all bullies, Trump is a coward, and like all those who feel the need to boast about being strong and tough, he is neither.
Unfortunately, Rubio recognized reality and found his voice 254 days after Trump’s scabrous announcement of his candidacy to rescue the United States from Mexican rapists. And 222 days after Trump disparaged John McCain’s war service (“I like people that weren’t captured”). And 95 days after Trump said that maybe a protester at his rally “should have been roughed up.” And 95 days after Trump retweeted that 81 percent of white murder victims are killed by blacks. (Eighty-two percent are killed by whites.) And 94 days after Trump said he supports torture even “if it doesn’t work.” And 79 days after Trump said he might have approved the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. And 72 days after Trump proved that he does not know the nuclear triad from the “Nutcracker” ballet. And 70 days after Trump, having been praised by Vladimir Putin, reciprocated by praising the Russian murderer and dictator. And so on. . . .
We are about to learn much about Republican officeholders who are now deciding whether to come to terms with Trump, and with the shattering of their party as a vessel of conservatism. Trump’s collaborators, like the remarkably plastic Chris Christie (“I don’t think [Trump’s] temperament is suited for [the presidency]”), will find that nothing will redeem the reputations they will ruin by placing their opportunism in the service of his demagogic cynicism and anticonstitutional authoritarianism.