Donald Trump’s desire to be a dictator took one step closer to becoming a reality on Tuesday as he said in an interview that the act of protesting should be illegal. Trump’s comments came in response to the large number of anti-Kavanaugh protesters who attended the first day of hearings for the man Trump has nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Trump had been watching the hearings on cable TV and then gave an Oval Office interview to the ultra-right-wing Daily Caller website just a few hours later.
“I don’t know why they don’t take care of a situation like that,” Trump said. “I think it’s embarrassing for the country to allow protesters. You don’t even know what side the protesters are on.”
Then he added: “In the old days, we used to throw them out. Today, I guess they just keep screaming.”
The Capitol Police did arrest more than 70 people who were heckling Kavanaugh and Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee at Tuesday’s hearing. The arrests were promoted and approved by Republicans on the committee.
Kavanaugh’s appointment has raised the ire of pro-choice activists who believe the conservative judge will vote to remove abortion rights and overturn Roe v. Wade if his nomination is confirmed.
This is not the first time that the president has suggested that protesters who are exercising their constitutional rights should be fired, arrested, or punished in some way.
In July, when discussing his upcoming trip to the United Kingdom, Trump told the Sun newspaper that he was very offended by reports of large-scale demonstrations against him in London.
“I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London,” Trump said. Several months before Trump had rejected published reports that his initial plans to visit London were cancelled because he was afraid of large-scale protests against his policies.
He also has put himself in the middle of the controversy over the rights of football players to kneel during the national anthem as a way to protest police violence. He has criticized former NFL star Colin Kaepernick, who started the movement. And a year ago he called on NFL owners to fire players who took a knee during the national anthem, even though it is within their legal rights to do so.
Then there were the times during his 2016 campaign for the presidency when he called uponn his supporters to commit acts of violence against demonstrators who interrupted his rallies.
More seriously, the president seems to have a deep admiration for dictators and strongmen around the world who crack down on dissent with force, and who deny the rights of their citizens to protest. For example he made remarks in which he seemed to admire and envy brutal North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. “He speaks, and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same,” Trump said about the North Korean leader.
It’s bad enough that Trump has nominated to the Supreme Court a person who thinks presidents are above the law. But saying that protesting should be illegal in America is going too far. The time has come for Donald Trump to be removed from office before he does any more damage to our democracy.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.