Think Trump is an authoritarian? Look at his actions, not his words

Corey Robin in The Guardian:

ScreenHunter_2690 May. 05 11.01A wise psychoanalyst once told me: “Stop looking at what you’re saying, look at what you’re doing.” If only journalists applied the same rule to Donald Trump.

On Friday night, Trump complained that he was being stymied by “archaic rules” in the House of Representatives and the Senate and warned “maybe at some point we’re going to have to take those rules on”.

Aaron Blake, a journalist at the Washington Post, was quick to diagnose the statement:

Now Trump is talking about consolidating his power … Whether this is just him [Trump] blowing off steam or signaling what lies ahead, it’s significant. Because it suggests a president, yet again, who doesn’t agree with his own powers being limited or even questioned. Remember when senior policy adviser Stephen Miller declared “the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned?” This is more of that kind of attitude. He wants more power – and he wants it quickly. It’s not difficult to connect this to his past admiration for authoritarian leaders, and these comments are likely to give Democrats (and even some in the GOP establishment) plenty of heartburn. This is a demonstrated pattern for him, for all the reasons listed at the top of this post.

This kind of narrative of Trump the authoritarian is popular among journalists such as Vox’s Ezra Klein and academics such as Yale historian Timothy Snyder. It’s the background mood music of a lot of liberal commentary in the US. But it depends on paying almost exclusive attention to what Trump says rather than what he does.

If Trump were actually serious about consolidating his power, he might start by, oh, I don’t know, consolidating his power.

More here.