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Expert explains the psychopathology that underlies Trump’s dictatorial behavior

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President Donald Trump. (AFP Photo/MANDEL NGAN)

I’m not being hyperbolic or melodramatic when I say that democracy itself is on the line on November 3. Donald Trump has been on a mission to subvert our democracy and to push it toward an autocracy. No president has ever disavowed democracy like Trump. No president has ever wanted to change our democratic way of life like Trump.

Trump has shown little interest or intent in following our Constitution. He is not abiding by the emoluments clause. He breaks norms and rules at will. He does not recognize that the three branches of government are co-equal. He operates as if the executive branch has total power. Our democracy is not based on the executive branch having absolute power. It requires that the three branches have separate powers in a check-and-balances system. Trump impugns democracy because it limits his power and requires him to be held accountable.

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Trump has crossed boundaries and politicized the Justice Department. He has finally “hired” an attorney general who functions as his personal attorney rather than the top judicial official for the country. Trump has done this so that he can stop any criminal investigations into his behavior. This allows his corruption to run rampant. That’s not how the judicial branch of government is intended to function in our democracy. It is designed to be independent with its own power. But not according to Trump.

A free press is guaranteed in the first amendment of the Constitution. But Donald Trump has systematically tried to undermine our free press from the beginning. The press’ role is to be a watchdog of government and to provide information to the public. Trump hates the press because he does not want to be watched, examined, scrutinized, or challenged. Whenever he does not like a story, he calls it “fake news” in order to minimize its importance to the public. Trump hates journalists, calls them “the enemy of the people,” and believes he can jail them. A free press is critical in a democracy. It keeps our elected officials earnest and honest. That’s why Trump is so disdainful and dismissive of the press. The irony is that it is the free press that helped to elect him in 2016.

The right to peacefully protest is protected in the Constitution as well. Violent protests are against the law, but non-violent protests are a part of our country’s heritage and are clearly protected In the first amendment. I wish Congressman John Lewis could once again talk to us about the importance of peaceful protests in the civil rights movement. But Trump has not be able to tolerate peaceful protests against him or his policies. In fact, he has sent federal troops into American cities to provoke aggressive conflicts with protestors so that he could flex his presidential muscle. The right to peaceful protests must be protected at all cost in our democracy. Trump has disowned that part of our Constitution. He just cannot personally endure a protest against him; it shakes his fragile ego and triggers his hostile urges.

Presidential corruption is antithetical to our democratic way of life. Trump’s associates and cronies are now convicted felons because of their activities in his administration. Trump himself is an unindicted co-conspirator. He is facing other criminal charges after he leaves office. Criminality in our president chips away at our democracy. It must not be tolerated. Let’s not forget that Trump was impeached in late 2019 for his corrupt behavior.

We live in a representative democracy. We elect our representatives at the voting booth. Trump is up for re-election on November 3. He has condoned and fueled a campaign of voter suppression that is anti-democratic in its intent. All Americans have the right to vote. But Trump is in favor of limiting polling booths, having restrictive rules, and not allowing mail-in voting. Trump’s voter suppression tactics are unconscionable in a democracy. And, again, an irony is that Trump votes by mail.

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Finally, Trump floated the idea of postponing the Nov. 3 election because of the pandemic. That, too, would be contrary to our Constitution. And it would be disruptive and unacceptable because it would be solely for Trump’s political and personal advantage.

Trump has spent the past four years attacking our democracy for his own personal and political gains. He is a malignant narcissist with antisocial leanings. His psychopathology is what underlies his dictatorial and autocratic preferences. His psychiatric disturbance won’t just disappear magically. Its influence is severe and constant.

As my colleagues and I have written, Trump in a second term would feel empowered and emboldened to erode democracy even further. The result would be a dictatorship in an autocracy if it is left up to him. That is Trump’s intent. Do not be misled or fooled by his words. Look at his deeds.

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Make no mistake about it, Donald Trump is attacking our democracy like no president in the past. Please don’t ignore it or minimize it. It is a full-frontal assault that will have disastrous consequences for decades and even generations to come.

Vote on Nov. 3 for our democracy. It is on the ballot.

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‘Not gonna work!’: A Republican tried to promote masks — and got angrily booed by Trump voters

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Republican Lt. Gov. Jon Husted of Ohio learned quickly on Monday that President Donald Trump’s voters aren’t ready for even mildly encouraging statements about wearing masks to stop the spread of COVID-19.

He appeared ahead of the president at a Trump rally in Ohio, and he tried to promote a series of Trump-branded masks. To the attendees’ credit, his speech was pretty condescending. Husted seemed to think he could convince them to wear face masks — which have become demonized on the right — just because they were branded with Trump logos.

But Husted was at least trying to encourage healthy behavior among his voters, which Trump has repeatedly declined to do. Experts agree masks are one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of the respiratory virus, and the fact that this advice has become anathema to large swaths of the country — primarily supporters of the president — is extremely dangerous on its own terms and disturbing for what it says about our politics.

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2020 Election

Republicans’ naked power grab will unwind the legal framework of the majority — and replace it with minority rule

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The big story today is big indeed: how and when the seat on the Supreme Court, now open because of the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, will be filled. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced within an hour of the announcement of Ginsburg’s passing that he would move to replace her immediately. Trump says he will announce his pick for the seat as early as Tuesday.

Democrats are crying foul. Their immediate complaint is that after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February 2016, McConnell refused even to meet with President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, on the grounds that it was inappropriate to confirm a Supreme Court justice in an election year. He insisted voters should get to decide on who got to nominate the new justice. This “rule” was invented for the moment: in our history, at least 14 Supreme Court justices have been nominated and confirmed during an election year. (Three more were nominated in December, after an election.)

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Donald Trump may kill off democracy — but Mitch McConnell was the real murderer

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Ever since Donald Trump's oversized suit-clad carcass first befouled the Oval Office, there's been talk in the media about if and when he would cause a constitutional crisis. The assumption underlying this discourse is that a constitutional crisis would hit us like a thunderbolt and we would collectively realize, all at once, that the very fate of our democracy was on the line. Instead, there's been a series of mini-constitutional crises, from Trump stomping all over our laws against foreign emoluments (an old-timey phrase for being bribed by foreign leaders), obstructing justice during Robert Mueller's investigation into Trump's role in Russian election interference, blackmailing the Ukrainian president to extract dishonest election assistance and about a dozen other instances it would be tedious to list.
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