Author and historian Jon Meacham on Tuesday warned President Donald Trump is “drawing on” authoritarianism and “verging toward” “dictatorial power,” the more his presidency goes on.
Meacham argued on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that with Trump threatening to use the military to contain the violent George Floyd protests and having police use tear gas to move peaceful protesters for his photo op at St. John’s Church.
“This is as real as it gets, it seems to me,” Meacham stated. “The president is drawing on the vernacular of authoritarianism. He is verging ever closer to violating in a permanent and deleterious way the separation of powers and the fundamental idea of divided sovereignty in America.”
“[W] e’re not quite 250 years old as a republic, so if you think this is hyperbole, if you’re… a supporter of the president’s and you think that all of us are always looking for any reason at all to criticize the president, this is not that. This is a data-driven point,” he added. “The President of the United States is verging toward the means and — the ways and means of dictatorial power. Democracy is as fragile a thing as it gets. James Madison said — Madison has been on my mind because St. John’s was finished in 1815. Dolly Madison went there. It’s part of the iconography of American power and virtue, in many ways — power in a good sense. Presidents go there on inauguration days to pray. Franklin Roosevelt went to his knees in March 4, 1933 and prayed in that church, at a time — the last time we had this many people out of work, the last time there was this lack of confidence. But what we have to do here is focus as strongly and intently as possible on what makes us different. And what makes us different is a rule of law and a capacity to address underlying concerns. The president has no interest in that. The rest of us have to be.”
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