In his column for the Daily Beast, conservative and former Republican Matt Lewis explained that Donald Trump has been a complete disaster as a president and -- had he been the least bit competent -- things could have been way worse.
With that in mind, and after listing off a series of Trump's destructive actions including plunging the country into a coronavirus health crisis that shows no signs of abating, Lewis said the president has exhibited all the signs of being an authoritarian but he's too lazy to really seize control of the country.
And, because of that, he claimed America has "dodged a bullet."
"Think about it: Trump possessed almost all the skills a would-be Mussolini might need. He had the demagogic appeal to a cult-like following, the strongman tendencies (see his personal affinity for dictators), the attacks on democratic norms (his refusal to clearly state that he will respect the election outcome), an unhealthy disregard for the Constitution ('Article II allows me to do whatever I want'), and a visceral ability to undermine institutions that exist to hold him accountable ('fake news,' 'enemies of the people,' etc.)," he wrote.
However, he notes, the president's "... ineptness and preference for short-term attention over long-term power have prevented him from fully exploiting his potential. As such, his presidency should serve as a sort of stress test for those of us who want to preserve liberal democracy for our children and grandchildren."
More importantly, he notes, with the president likely to lose in November "bigly" Lewis warned that another candidate like Trump could come along and use this president's rise to power as a blueprint and things could turn out even worse.
Posing the question of how the country could strip some powers away from an "even more dangerous future Trump," the conservative columnist had a few suggestions.
"Some ideas are simple, if not easy," he wrote. "A few of my personal favorites include: Parties should consider ranked-choice voting for primaries to prevent fringe candidates with a plurality of support from taking over a party. We should change the law so that presidential candidates have to release their taxes. We should pass a constitutional amendment doing away with a president’s unilateral power to grant pardons (especially his power to pardon family, friends, and… himself). Pass a law stating explicitly that a sitting president can be prosecuted for certain crimes committed while seeking the presidency or serving as president."
None of this will work, he cautioned, unless the "adults" in the room take the need for change seriously.
"Ultimately, the American people get what they want, and if they want a strongman, that’s what they will eventually have. That’s why the real goal—a nearly impossible feat—is to educate the public about the importance of civics—to reinforce the importance of maintaining a free society, and to educate them on how fragile the American experiment is," he wrote before darkly warning, "The danger doesn’t end if and when Trump leaves the White House. At best, we have bought ourselves some time."
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