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Robert Reich: Trump’s Creeping Tyranny – OpEd

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On the evening of December 7, minutes after a local Indiana union leader, Chuck Jones, criticized Trump on CNN for falsely promising to keep Carrier jobs in the U.S., Trump tweeted, “Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!”

Since that tweet went out, Chuck Jones says “I’m getting threats and everything else from some of his supporters.”

A few days before, Boeing’s CEO Dennis Muilenberg was quoted in the Chicago Tribune gently chiding Trump for being against trade. Muilenberg noted that trade is essential to the U.S. economy, as reflected in the “large and growing percentage of our business” coming from international sales, including commercial jet orders from China.

Moments later, Trump tweeted: “Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!”

Boeing shares immediately took a hit. As it turns out, Boeing doesn’t even have a $4 billion order to make Air Force One planes.

This has been Trump’s pattern. About a year ago, 18-year-old college student Lauren Batchelder stood up at a political forum in New Hampshire and told Donald Trump that she didn’t think he was “a friend to women.”

The next morning, Trump fired back on Twitter. He called Batchelder an “arrogant young woman” and accused her of being a “plant” from a rival campaign.

Almost immediately, Batchelder’s phone began receiving threatening messages. “I didn’t really know what anyone was going to do,” Batchelder told the Washington Post. “He was only going to tweet about it and that was it, but I didn’t really know what his supporters were going to do, and that to me was the scariest part.”

This is what happens when Trump targets a private citizen who publicly challenges him.

Trump doesn’t take kindly to anyone criticizing him – not journalists (whom he refers to as “dishonest,” “disgusting” and “scum” when they take him on), not corporate executives, not entertainers who satirize him, not local labor leaders, not a college student, no one.

The President-elect’s tendency to go after people who criticize him by sending false and provocative statements to his 17 million twitter followers (he had 5 million when he went after Lauren Batchelder) not only imperils these individuals.

It also poses a clear and present danger to our democracy.

Democracy depends on the freedom to criticize those in power without fear of retribution.

No President or President-elect in history has ever before publicly condemned individual citizens for criticizing him. That occurs in two-bit dictatorships intent on stamping out dissent.

No President or President-elect has ever before bypassed the media and spoken directly to large numbers of his followers in order to disparage individual citizens who criticize him. That occurred in the fascist rallies of the 1930s.

America came closest to this in the 1950s when Senator Joseph McCarthy wrecked the lives of thousands of American citizens whom he arbitrarily and carelessly claimed were communists.

McCarthy’s reign of terror ended when a single man asked him publicly, during the televised hearings McCarthy was conducting, “have you no decency, sir?” In that moment, Americans began to see McCarthy for the tyrant he was.

McCarthy’s assistant was Roy Cohn, an attorney who perfected the art of character assassination. Roy Cohn was also one of Donald J. Trump’s mentors.

Trump’s capricious use of power to denigrate and even endanger his critics must end. He is not yet our President. When he becomes so, he will have far greater power. Our freedom and our democracy could be gravely jeopardized.

We must join together to condemn these acts. Has Trump no decency?


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Robert Reich

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

One thought on “Robert Reich: Trump’s Creeping Tyranny – OpEd

  • December 12, 2016 at 4:28 pm
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    Respectfully Robert and I do respect you on a professional level however where is your Humanity do you have any clue what it could feel like to be criticized by millions of people devaluing UD meaning you denigrating you constantly getting a barrage of that from millions of people that is what Donald J Trump has had to deal with you chose to write an article about him which is equally critical you didn’t say one nice thing about him why don’t we stop tearing each other apart tearing each other down how do you expect us to come together and be stronger together as a people as a nation instead of being divided by so-called ideologies that people think exist which don’t even exist for instance the Democratic party which is now been overshadowed and taken over there’s no democracy in this country we are a fascist system and we are moving closer and closer to becoming one world order the new world order that they’re talking about have you not read Brave New World and 1984 when you were in high school well guess what they were trying to warn us that was not fiction do you have any clue what’s going on apparently not or you would not be publishing this article or are you hoping that Trump will tone down his approach and stop tweeting and feeling like he has to defend himself every time somebody criticizes him actually you do make a good point he doesn’t have to respond but if I were him I wouldn’t respond to 99% of that crap but then again he kind of got into the habit of doing it because if he hadn’t done it he would never have gotten elected he had to be strong you have to be a dragon slayer or he would never have gotten the position that he is now in give him some credit for once be a stroker not a stalker or a shitstirrer if you know what I mean. I mean whose side are you on anyone who’s not on Trump and whether they like him or not would be saying why don’t you write an article and encourage people to say nice things about Trump for a change instead of criticizing him focus on his positive qualities and what he’s doing what he’s given up and what he’s trying to do to save us from ourselves and to save the world from becoming globalised with their b******* agenda to make us all into bigger slaves than we already are they’ve even got the Pope made into a political puppet and poem spewing out b******* about global warming excuse me climate change they’ll be calling it global warming when it starts warming up and you see this is exactly why these lost children they’re like sheep you know riding in the streets they don’t even have a clue what’s really going on they’ve been completely programs because they ate the blue pill who fed them those blue pills? So-called fake news is a lot more real than what people are getting fed through mass media and you know that’s true you’ve gotta know that I mean after all you are a professor aren’t you?

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