2023: A BAD YEAR;
A second Trump term would instantly plunge the country into a constitutional crisis more terrible than anything seen since the Civil War. Even in the turmoil of the 1960s, even during the Great Depression, the country had a functional government with the president as its head. But the government cannot function with an indicted or convicted criminal as its head. The president would be an outlaw, or on his way to becoming an outlaw. For his own survival, he would have to destroy the rule of law.
Other Atlantic writers deal with the many ways that Trump and his supporters are planning to destroy American democracy: remaking the Department of Justice to go after his enemies; abandoning NATO; packing the federal bureaucracy with loyalists who’ll carry out Trump’s orders; what will happen to core issues such as climate change, immigration and civil rights; and the many challenges faced by journalism.
A TRUMP DICTATORSHIP IS INCREASINGLY INEVITABLE. WE SHOULD STOP PRETENDING.
For many months now, we have been living in a world of self-delusion, rich with imagined possibilities.
Such hopeful speculation has allowed us to drift along passively, conducting business as usual, taking no dramatic action to change course, in the hope and expectation that something will happen.
Like people on a riverboat, we have long known there is a waterfall ahead but assume we will somehow find our way to shore before we go over the edge.”
HOW TRUMP AND HIS ALLIES PLAN TO WIELD POWER OF 2025
Since launching his 2024 presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump has said the “termination” of the Constitution would have been justified to overturn the 2020 election, told followers “I am your retribution” and vowed to use the Justice Department to prosecute his adversaries — starting with President Biden and his family.
Beneath these public threats is a series of plans by Mr. Trump and his allies that would upend core elements of American governance, democracy, foreign policy and the rule of law if he regained the White House.
Since leaving office, Mr. Trump’s advisers and allies at a network of well-funded groups have advanced policies, created lists of potential personnel and started shaping new legal scaffolding — laying the groundwork for a second Trump presidency they hope will commence on Jan. 20, 2025.
Mr. Trump is planning an assault on immigration on a scale unseen in modern American history. Millions of undocumented immigrants would be barred from the country or uprooted from it years or even decades after settling here.
Bolstered by agents reassigned from other federal law enforcement agencies and state police and the National Guard, officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement would carry out sweeping raids aimed at deporting millions of people each year.
Military funds would be used to erect sprawling camps to hold undocumented detainees. A public-health emergency law would be invoked to shut down asylum requests by people arriving at the border. And the government would try to end birthright citizenship for babies born on U.S. soil to undocumented parents.
TRUMP TOUTS AUTHORITARIAN VISION FOR SECOND TERM: 'I AM YOUR JUSTICE.
Mandatory stop-and-frisk. Deploying the military to fight street crime, break up gangs and deport immigrants. Purging the federal workforce and charging leakers.
Former president Donald Trump has steadily begun outlining his vision for a second-term agenda, focusing on unfinished business from his time in the White House and an expansive vision for how he would wield federal power. In online videos and stump speeches, Trump is pledging to pick up where his first term left off and push even further.
Trump himself has added to these the grim forecasts. Campaigning in Claremont, New Hampshire last month, he made this widely quoted declaration, which some experts compared to the kind of language used by authoritarian leaders, the Post reported on Nov. 12:
TRUMP CALLS POLITICAL ENEMIES 'VERMIN,'ECHOING DICTATORS HITLER, MUSSOLINI
Former president Donald Trump denigrated his domestic opponents and critics during a Veterans Day speech Saturday, calling those on the other side of the aisle “vermin” and suggesting that they pose a greater threat to the United States than countries such as Russia, China or North Korea. That language is drawing rebuke from historians, who compared it to that of authoritarian leaders.
"We pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie and steal and cheat on elections,” Trump said toward the end of his speech, repeating his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. "They’ll do anything, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America and to destroy the American Dream."
The Times cited 69 quotes. Here’s a sampling:
I doubt that the barrage of news and opinion articles will change the minds of Trump cultists. Indeed, the wording is so apocalyptic that many will dismiss it as confirmation that a liberal media is indeed is partisan and biased.
But I’m guessing that it will help put the election in its proper perspective, emphasizing that Trump is hardly just another candidate, but instead he's a figure that could change the course of national and world history, putting the country into a downward, irreversible slide into authoritarianism.
This has not an easy call for editors and leaders of these news organizations, who remain uncomfortable with finally having to tell it like it is.
Jeffrey Goldberg, editor of The Atlantic, explained the magazine’s decision, to devote an entire edition about the consequences of a Trump victory in an article headlined: A WARNING:
The Atlantic, as our loyal readers know, is deliberately not a partisan magazine. “Of no party or clique” is our original 1857 motto, and it is true today. Our concern with Trump is not that he is a Republican, or that he embraces—when convenient—certain conservative ideas. We believe that a democracy needs, among other things, a strong liberal party and a strong conservative party in order to flourish. Our concern is that the Republican Party has mortgaged itself to an antidemocratic demagogue, one who is completely devoid of decency.
Earlier this week, a former Trump advisor, Kash Patel, who could have a role in a second administration, said on a podcast that the media would be a principal target, the Associated Press reported Dec. 5:
A SECOND TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WILL 'COME AFTER' PEOPLE IN THE MEDIA IN THE COURTS, AN ALLY SAYS
Kash Patel, who was also chief of staff in the Defense Department and held a role on the National Security Council, made the comment on Steve Bannon’s podcast. He said that, in a second Trump administration, “We will go out and find the conspirators not just in government, but in the media,” over the 2020 election, which Trump lost to Democrat Joe Biden.
“We will go out and find the conspirators, not just in government but in the media,” Patel said. “Yes, we’re going to come after the people in the media who lied about American citizens, who helped Joe Biden rig presidential elections — we’re going to come after you."
I say up front, openly, and proudly, that when I WIN the Presidency of the United States, they and others of the LameStream Media will be thoroughly scrutinized for their knowingly dishonest and corrupt coverage of people, things, and events. Why should NBC, or any other of the corrupt & dishonest media companies, be entitled to use the very valuable Airwaves of the USA, FREE? They are a true threat to Democracy and are, in fact, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE! The Fake News Media should pay a big price for what they have done to our once great Country!
To which I say: Good.
It’s about time the press realized that it’s likely to be among the first targets of a dictatorship, as has been the case historically when authoritarians take control.
So, yes, the media’s increased focus on the election's outcome may be as much about its own survival as it is concern for the future of the country.
Which does not make its warnings less true.
My concern is that the media will back away from these explicit warnings, saying that “We covered that back in December,” rather than making the alarms a regular feature of campaign coverage.
This is an election that we should all take personally. A dictatorship will attack every aspect of society – schools, business, the environment, agriculture, science, health care, entertainment.
No one will be spared. Everything will be worse.
Every single American is at risk in a Trump dictatorship.
This is an election in which we all need to vote as if our lives depend on it.
Because that’s the fact.
I'VE BEEN a reporter and writer for 58 years, long enough to have learned that journalists don't know very much, although I've met some smart ones.
Mainly, what reporters know comes from asking other people questions and fretting about the answers.
This blog is a successor to one inspired by our dog, Phoebe, who was smart, sweet and the antithesis of Donald Trump. She died Feb. 3, and I don't see getting over that very soon.
Occasionally, I may try to reach her via cell phone.