Trump’s authoritarian behavior cannot be excused


Yael Hanadari-Levy, Opinion Editor

Since Trump’s inauguration, sales of George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel 1984 shot up, with the book jumping to the top of Amazon’s best seller list and remaining there even now, a month after the inauguration.
It is not hard to see why people find the story and its themes of historical revisionism relevant to today, with Trump’s administration talking about “alternative facts” and outright lying about pretty much everything. The clear parallels between 1984’s censorship and manipulation of the public and Trump’s cries of “fake news” to describe any facts that portray him in a negative light make it seem more and more like Trump sees himself as more of an absolute monarch than a democratic president.
I’m sure we have all heard more than enough about Trump’s extremely controversial Muslim ban executive order. In case you haven’t, the order put a stop to any immigration from a list of specific Muslim-majority countries. This action was not surprising. Trump said he was going to enforce a Muslim ban throughout his entire presidential campaign. Also unsurprisingly, a federal judge almost immediately overturned the order, issuing a temporary stay on the immigration ban.
What was unusual, however, was Trump’s reaction to all of this. On February 4, he tweeted “What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban?”
Apparently, nobody told our president that the United States has three branches of government. Apparently, he has no idea what “checks and balances” are. Apparently, Donald Trump does not realize that he does not actually have absolute power.
That response is not the only recent occasion where Trump has sounded terrifyingly authoritarian.
Only a few days before, he fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to defend the same executive order. Of course, it is his right to fire Obama’s administration and replace it with his own. The firing itself was not the problem. The controversial part was how Trump’s people explained it, describing Yates as having “betrayed” her department.
Is it now considered traitorous to dissent with the president? Just that one incident would be disturbing, but that attitude keeps showing up in how Trump deals with dissent.
It is impossible to even write about it, because every day the Trump administration says something else shocking and borderline fascist. By the time anything about it is published, the fact that Trump preemptively blamed terrorism on dissenting judges is old news, and the only thing people are talking about is how his spokesperson said Trump’s actions “will not be questioned.”
We cannot accept these authoritarian behaviors in our president. These incidents are extremely dangerous signs, and it is important to always remember: this is not normal. This is the behavior of a dictator. Trump’s actions should disturb all of us; just because we live in a “democratic country” doesn’t mean it could not happen here. If we don’t call it what it is, we just encourage it to happen more.