Even though Donald Trump is not of Italian heritage, Benito Mussolini would have been proud of him. Veterans Day was intended to celebrate those men and women who have defended the country in uniform. So, Trump went to some national cemetery to honor the veterans, right? Nah. He made an incendiary speech at a campaign stop in New Hampshire using language to call out his political opponents as subhuman. He said that as president he would root out the "radical left thugs that live like vermin."
He didn't mention Joe Biden by name, but surely he wouldn't bother to give a speech merely to denounce Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Claremont, NH, where he gave the speech, is only 3 miles from the Vermont border, so maybe he thinks Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is a radical left thug who lives like vermin? Three years ago, Sanders was criticized for buying a house on a lake in North Hero, VT, for $575,000. Maybe there are silverfish or other vermin in his house?
Trump did mention Biden later in his speech though. He said Biden was trying to roll back Trump's efforts to expand health care for veterans. As usual with Trump, the opposite is true. Biden has increased funding for health care for veterans. The rest of Trump's speech was also full of lies, exaggerations, and half-truths. He covered election fraud and the 2020 election (he won), gas prices, and energy independence.
The former president also pleased the crowd by mocking people he doesn't like. He commented on the stories about Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and said: "I'm not wearing lifts, either, by the way. I don't have six-inch heels." That was a reference to a remark made by Nikki Haley at the last debate saying she wears five-inch heels, which she sees as ammunition. He also made fun of Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH), who does not support him, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Hillary Clinton, and Biden. The crowd lapped it up. Third-graders might be impressed.
It wasn't just his speech. On his boutique social media site, Trump wrote that he would "root out the Communists, Marxists, Fascists, and Radical Left Thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our Country, lie, steal, and cheat on Elections, and will do anything possible, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America, and the American Dream. The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous, and grave, than the threat from within. Despite the hatred and anger of the Radical Left Lunatics who want to destroy our Country, we will MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" Got it?
Recently, Trump has also started talking about firing civil servants he considers disloyal and using the DoJ to prosecute his political opponents. He also believes in the unitary executive theory, which basically means the president has unlimited power over the entire Executive Branch and can fire anyone in the government just because he doesn't like them. He also believes the president has the authority to order any government official to do anything he wants them to do, laws be damned. Does he really mean it? Keep in mind what Maya Angelou said: "When someone shows you who they really are, believe them the first time."
Despite all the authoritarian rhetoric, not to mention 91 indictments, Trump keeps getting more popular by the day. What is going on? Is the media failing to inform people about what is going on? Maybe, but there is a bigger problem. Many people want something like a dictator. In a recent PRRI poll, people were asked if they agreed with this statement: "Because things have gotten so far off track in this country, we need a leader who is willing to break some rules if that is what it takes to set things right." Here are the results:
Almost 40% of all Americans want a president who will break the law to get what they want. Among Republicans it is nearly half. Even among Democrats it is nearly 30%. In answer to another question, 33% of Republicans, 22% of independents, and 13% of Democrats are willing to use violence to "save the country." Of course, what these people want the dictator to do is wildly different. What the big problems are varies heavily by party. Democrats alone are worried about guns, climate change, healthcare, democracy, and mental health issues. Republicans alone are worried about what children learn in school, immigration, crime, and human trafficking. The only issue everyone is worried about is the increasing cost of housing and everyday expenses. Other than that, there is no overlap at all on what the dictator should do and which laws he should break to get the job done. Surprisingly, only 49% of Democrats and 32% of Republicans said abortion was a critical issue.
Other surveys have shown similar results. However, it is important to realize the wording of the questions is significant. Asking politely if the president should bend the rules or even break the rules is very different than asking if the leader should ignore the law and do what he thinks is best. The survey also asked which candidates respect the rule of law. For Biden, 51% think he does but for Trump only 35% do. But if you think lack of respect for the rule of law is a feature rather than a bug, that only makes Trump more attractive. (V)