Evan McMullin, the former CIA officer who ran for president as a “never Trump” conservative, warned that the Republican president-elect posed an existential threat to the U.S. Constitution.
In a New York Times column published Monday, McMullin warned that Donald Trump displayed “authoritarian tendencies” he had examined among other world leaders who elevate themselves above the law and even truth through their provocations and inconsistencies.
“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,” McMullin said. “For a despot, all of these checks on power must be ignored, undermined or destroyed so that he is all that matters.”
McMullin was particularly troubled by Trump’s inflation of his popular vote performance by questioning the votes of “millions” as illegal.
“Authoritarians often exaggerate their popular support to increase the perception of their legitimacy,” he said. “But the deeper objective is to weaken the democratic institutions that limit their power. Eroding confidence in voting, elections and representative bodies gives them a freer hand to wield more power.”
Trump has bragged that his unpredictability makes him more powerful, and McMullin warned that autocrats sow confusion to position themselves as the ultimate authority.
“As we become desensitized to the notion that Mr. Trump is the ultimate authority, we may attribute less importance to the laws, norms and principles that uphold our system of government, which protects our rights,” McMullin said. “Most dangerously, we devalue our own worth and that of our fellow Americans.”