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03rd Jun 2020

Donald Trump: Authoritarian reaction leaves many in US worried

Wayne Farry

donald trump

“If you don’t dominate your state, they’re going to walk away with you”

These were the words of US president Donald Trump during a phone call with American governors this week, the content of which was leaked to the press.

During the call, Trump’s tone was one of force – urging those on the call to crush protesters, or look “weak”. Throughout the crisis which has engulfed the US since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police last week, Trump’s rhetoric has been aggressive rather than sympathetic.

At no time was that more apparent than during his address to the nation on Monday evening. Speaking on the White House’s Rose Garden, Trump stated that he was an “ally to peaceful protesters”, before referring to some actions by protesters as “domestic terror”.

While he was speaking, police kitted out in riot gear cleared peaceful protesters outside of the White House using a combination of tear gas and flash bangs. Why do this? So that Trump could walk unfettered to a nearby church, for a photo opportunity with a bible.

Trump’s critics during the 2016 presidential election consistently warned of the then candidate’s authoritarian tendencies and the threat of fascism in the United States under his presidency.

Most of these worries had been allayed, by some at least, during the subsequent three years, thanks to a combination of Trump’s incompetency and apparent inability to focus on one issue for more than a very short period of time.

But the civil unrest in the country right now has provoked fresh worries that Trump’s natural reactions – to prove that he is strong, by any measure – will lead to the sort of future America has always claimed to be against.