The Authoritarian Cult of Donald Trump

By David Stockman  |  July 17, 2019

Let’s set aside the “white nationalism” and the “racism” accusations against Donald Trump. That’s pretty radioactive stuff.

Authoritarianism Should Have Us on Edge.

Donald J. Trump made his grievances the GOP’s grievances. If the Tweeter-in-Chief says it, the GOP will fall in line behind him. It’s all very explicit. And it’s all very open.

They hosted a bloody parade two weeks ago today – on the Fourth of July, ironically enough.

Nothing compares to MAGA in U.S history. It’s as pure a demonstration of the “leader principle” dynamic at work than anything we’ve seen since the middle of the 20th century in Europe and Asia.

The party’s and the movement’s ideologies – increasingly one and the same – are what Donald Trump says they are on that given day. The Donald determines standards and limits of personal and political behavior by what he does as MAGA and the GOP genuflect to his Twitter feed.

This is yet another aspect of “Peak Trump.”

Donald Trump hugging the American flag

Donald Trump and his propagandists portray he holds dear and earnestly celebrates things like the Declaration of Independence. With his late-life conversion to flag-hugging patriotism

Donald Trump and The Declaration of Independence Don’t Mix

Driven by recent events, I recently re-scoured the 1,334 words of that seminal document.

And my recollection was fully vindicated. There’s not a single mention of armed might, military exploits, unfurled flags, marching bands, battle hymns, or even occupied airports.

There is, indeed, reference to King George’s brutal use of mercenary armies to quash the colonists’ rights of individual liberty and self-government.

Among Jefferson’s long bill of particulars is this passage:

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

The Declaration is a jeremiad against tyranny, a paean to liberty, and a roadmap for the grounding of the state in the consent of the governed. It is for these principles, not military glory, that those 56 guys, by signing, pledged to each other their Lives, Fortunes and sacred Honor…

It’s Liberty Not Statism

As Jefferson’s plain language holds, they understood liberty to be not a gift of the state or privilege granted by the king. But it was grounded in rights that were “unalienable” and pre-existing to any and all forms of government:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.– That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

It’s libertarian, through and through, not statist. It was revolutionary in proclaiming pre-existing natural rights that define the limits of constituted power.

And it went even further by asserting a right of the people to abolish the existing authority. And to start anew with a fresh constitution whenever that existing authority becomes destructive of liberty.

That’s the very opposite of blind worship of the established institutions of government and patriotic subservience to its orders, projects and pretensions:

–That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The Right To Overthrow Government 

The most stirring portions of the Declaration focus on the righteousness of the signers’ opposition to the king’s tyrannical rule. The resulting threat of “absolute Despotism” veritably conferred upon them a “duty” to overthrow such government. And to thereby reclaim those “unalienable Rights” of the people which were “endowed by their Creator”:

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

I’m sure – and saddened – that this will all come as great surprise to the sitting president.

But it’s always worth remembering that the state’s remit is conditioned upon a scrupulous regard for the rights, prosperity, and happiness of the governed.

The state, in other words, is the servant of a free people.

The Donald has blurred these things.

Declare Your Independence

Desperate times call for… “common sense” measures.

And these are desperate times… Markets are corrupted by monetary central planning. They’re confused. And the road back is going to be treacherous.

We’re looking at a major re-pricing for all financial assets. And thousand-point intraday or day-to-day swings are part of that equation. Those can be frightening… for “buy and hold” investors.

I have a different approach, one that combines strategy and tactics into a plan flexible enough for you to survive and thrive amid the coming chaos. It’s called “The Stockman Model.”

All we’re after is a little stability, perhaps a chance to pocket a windfall when opportunity presents…

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David Stockman

David Stockman is the ultimate Washington insider turned iconoclast. He began his career in Washington as a young man and quickly rose through the ranks of the Republican Party to become the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. After leaving the White House, Stockman had a 20-year career on Wall Street.MORE FROM AUTHOR