At one point in the general election, when Donald Trump’s poll numbers were plummeting, it seemed possible that a man with virtually no national name-recognition – a man who wasn’t even on the ballot in most states – would defeat the Republican nominee in the reliable red state of Utah. Selling himself as a conservative alternative to Trump and Hillary Clinton, Evan McMullin ultimately wound up with only 20% of the vote in his home state. Still, that was a hell of a lot better than Gary Johnson or Jill Stein did in any individual contest.
McMullin, the Hail Mary for the NeverTrump movement, has not come around to the president-elect like some of his fellow conservatives. While Mitt Romney is meeting with Trump to discuss a place in the new administration, McMullin is writing opinion pieces for the New York Times, warning readers that their incoming president is a dictator in the making.
“Mr. Trump has said that he prefers to be unpredictable because it maximizes his power,” McMullin writes. “During his recent interview with The New York Times, he casually abandoned his fiery calls during the campaign for torture, prosecuting Hillary Clinton and changing libel laws. Mr. Trump’s inconsistencies and provocative proposals are a strategy; they are intended to elevate his importance above all else — and to place him beyond democratic norms, beyond even the Constitution.”
Citing Trump’s “Article XII” gaffe from July, his campaign rhetoric, and his comments since winning the election, McMullin argues that Trump bears a strong resemblance to the extra-constitutional strongmen he observed during his days in the U.S. intelligence community.
“As a C.I.A. officer, I saw firsthand authoritarians’ use of these tactics around the world,” he writes. “Their profound appetite for absolute power drives their intolerance for any restraint — whether by people, organizations, the law, cultural norms, principles or even the expectation of consistency. For a despot, all of these checks on power must be ignored, undermined or destroyed so that he is all that matters.”
Boy oh boy, they must be pounding the liberal Kool-Aid in Salt Lake City these days. McMullin must not realize that you don’t have to have a background in the CIA to know a despot when you see one; every American has watched Barack Obama greedily consume congressional power for the last eight years right here at home. If our executive branch is on the way to becoming a monarchy, at least we have a monarch coming into the White House with some better ideas than the one we have now.
But guess what? In four years, our new “authoritarian dictator” will be subject to a vote, just like every other president in American history. Our Constitution is bigger than any one man – even Lord Obama. If it could survive him, it can certainly survive Trump.