By Andrew Tyrrell, Managing Editor
I remember during the Spring 2014 semester I took American Political Thought with Professor David Prentiss. The course, in large part, explored the political theory that is the backbone of American democracy. One of the most important questions we looked at was how to protect a democracy from the kind of totalitarian dictatorships that Washington and the boys fought so hard to free us from.
This was the first time I had encountered the term “demagogue.” Essentially the problem with democracy, particularly a representative democracy like we have, is that we can elect someone who will do us harm. Though the system is inherently designed in such a way that power cannot be seized by force, it can still be willingly given to a demagogue. It is through a demagogue that democracy fails.
Demagogue (Noun): A political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.
This is exactly what Donald John Trump is. He is a demagogue. This is irrefutable. The American people elected a man so blatantly and wholly unqualified to run this country because he was able to appeal to their demons instead of their better angels. He is the American id incarnate.
And he is dangerous, make no mistake about that. White nationalism is on the rise under the Trump regime, and I’ve had to legitimately ask when correlation just flat out becomes causation. Donald Trump is a fascist. Fascism is “an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization;” a fascist is anyone who subscribes to this. I’m not sure how that doesn’t apply to Trump.
One of the first things a fascist does is discredit the press. I’m a big fan of the Constitution. I think it’s a beautifully written document, even if it is in need of updating. The First Amendment to the Constitution is the most important. That’s why it comes first, right?
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Read that through a few times. Enjoy that while you can. I’m not trying to be dramatic; Trump did say he wants to open up libel laws to make it easier to sue the press. I don’t think he realizes that that would require an amendment, but I digress.
Trump, who is an egomaniac with the self-esteem of an angsty teenager, cannot handle the heat of the press. Any news outlet that isn’t Breitbart is fake, any journalist or publication that disagrees with him is fake and needs to back off. He’s a child throwing a tantrum because the world refuses to be sycophantic.
If you were to ask most people who the most reliable and closest-to-neutral news sources are they would answer with CNN or the BBC, or perhaps publications like the New York Times, the LA Times, or POLITICO.
Incidentally, all of them had their press credentials revoked and are no longer allowed at the press briefings. All because Donnie can’t take criticism.
These are some of the most respected sources of journalism in the world. I know people who would sell their souls to work for the BBC because of the quality of their reporting. There are many things that are important in a democracy, but I argue that free press is the most important.
A press that is free to criticize, that is free to provide dissenting opinions, a press that is free to REPORT FACTS, is the bedrock of a democracy.
A free press is required if we want an informed electorate, an informed electorate that can help prevent the exact scenario that the founders were afraid of, the exact scenario we now find ourselves in a few centuries later.
But Trump doesn’t want that. He doesn’t want a free press, because he just wants unchecked power, and the press exists to check that power just as much as Congress and the judiciary. While I admit there is nothing unconstitutional about banning certain media outlets from press briefings, it’s a dangerous precedent and very telling about the Oompa Loompa leading our country. He can’t stand the idea of being criticized, so he will quash those voices in whatever ways he can.
We are witnessing the rise of a fascist. The only solace I can take is in how willing journalists are to fight back, and how willing the American people have been to fight back against everything Trump does, using the full range of that First Amendment while they still can. And I urge people to keep fighting.
The revolution will be televised, but only by FoxNews. They’ll probably be the only media outlet left, to be honest.