The political process of consolidating power occurs when an individual in power disbands legislative, judicial and executive authorities while placing that authority in one or two offices or office holders.
For a historical example of this consolidation and what it looks like to the casual observer, one need only look to the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia, which established the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR). Political analysts usually point to this event as the launch of Socialism in the Soviet Union, and while it was definitely the catalyst, the actual consolidation and creation of the Soviet Union took place over decades as first Lenin, then Stalin, then Khrushchev, then Brezhnev gradually disbanded other political organizations, or shifted actual power from organizations, rendering them figureheads, until eventually, virtually all actual decision making rested with the Politburo.
Rarely a quick process, it was this aspect of the consolidation of power process which provided some semblance of reassurance to political analysts in our nation when Donald Trump was elected into power. Those pundits believed that our nation’s system of checks and balances would prohibit Trump from such action, yet these same people failed to realize how much of this process takes place behind the scenes, building up for a period of several years. Then, with just the right person elected to power, the consolidation of power accelerates and many are caught off guard.
“He’s now president for life. President for life. And he’s great.” Trump added, “I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll give that a shot someday.”
This response by Trump reinforces the notion that he holds great admiration for global leaders who arguably are categorized as more autocratic than democratic. He is effusive towards North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, Philippine leader, Rodrigo Duterte, and the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and has not one negative thing to say about Russia’s Vladimir Putin, unless the statement comes through his Aides. Moreover, his behavior indicates his penchant for blurring the lines between our democratic institutions, leading many to believe Trump is bordering on, if not fully engaged in abusing the power of his office.
Freedom House, an independent watchdog group which monitors democracy and threats to it across the globe, recently made the following statement regarding our democratic institutions and current climate:
“The past year brought further, faster erosion of America’s own democratic standards than at any other time in memory.” The nation’s core institutions, the report says, have been “attacked by an administration that rejects established norms of ethical conduct across many fields of activity.”
Trump’s latest Twitter storm from this past weekend reinforces the findings by Freedom House. He continues to call the investigation into how Russia influenced our election a “witch hunt.” He has systematically targeted those responsible for the task of investigating this now established finding. Former Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions at 10:00 PM last Friday night, released a statement outlining the abuses he suffered at the hands of the President.
Taking a victory lap of sorts the next morning, Trump was back at it, releasing a series of ten Tweets to the public throughout the weekend continuing into this morning, all questioning the integrity of the ongoing investigation. Worse? Out of all of the Republican lawmakers in Washington, few spoke out against Trump’s verbal attack.
Greg Sargent, writer for The Plum Line, Washington Post’s opinion blog reports that “Trump is testing what he can get away with in terms of hamstringing or derailing the probe.” Consider the following four examples Sargent provides:
Last March, many will recall Trump ordering “the White House Counsel to stop Attorney General Jeff Sessions from recusing himself.” Who will ever forget Trump’s statement to the New York Times?
“Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else.”
As if that were not bad enough, Trump then engaged in a public relations campaign berating the Attorney General in an apparent attempt to oust Sessions whether through his incessant Tweets or public commentary.
Last May, Trump fired Federal Bureau of Investigation Director, James Comey. Reporting conveyed prior to Comey’s testimony before Congress that loyalty pledges were sought by Trump from the Director. In one particular meeting, Trump waited to speak with Comey privately, leading every last advisor out of the Oval Office before asking Comey whether “he could let the Flynn matter go.”
Making matters worse, the day after that meeting, then White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus called Mr. Comey requesting he “push back on reports that Trump campaign officials had been in contact with Russian intelligence officials.”
Last June, it was reported that Trump ordered his White House counsel to fire Bob Mueller, a request which was unsuccessful due to that counsel threatening to quit.
And, earlier this year, Trump demanded the Nunes memo be released with what many believe the intention of laying the groundwork for terminating Rob Rosenstein. Why would Trump want to do such a thing? Because Rosenstein oversees the Mueller probe and many speculate that Trump wants to replace Rosenstein with a loyalist who will do his bidding.
Video from The Eleventh Hour:
Let me be clear: Trump’s incessant attacks on this investigation and those tasked with getting to the truth, coupled with Republican lawmaker’s silence, only serves to consolidate his power.
As Trey Gowdy said this past weekend:
“So to suggest that Mueller should shut down and that all he’s looking at is collusion, if you have an innocent client Mr. Dowd, act like it.”
For once I find myself agreeing with the Republican from South Carolina. Perhaps Republican lawmakers ought to follow Gowdy’s advice as well.
A social psychologist by day, political analyst and journalist by night, Dr. Mark Bear has built an established audience by printing facts, without click-bait, sensationalism, or hyperbole. He is married to his wife of 34 years, and both he and his wife, Susan, have a Schnauzer named Shadow. Follow along by connecting with Doc on Facebook or Twitter under the handle Dr. Progressive!