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Avert the dictator

Only one presidential candidate is a choice for democracy

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It appears that for some yet-unknown reason, John Donegan ("None dare call it treason," June 6) is using a history lesson as a thinly-veiled attempt to convince us that the fears of Donald Trump becoming a dictator are overblown.

John correctly states that we had a four-term president once in Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), a man who amassed great powers during his terms—perhaps a bit too much. Some may say his power was almost dictatorial. To help guard against such excesses, the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution was passed in 1951, which limits a president to a maximum of two terms, thus preventing any one man from becoming a "president for life," or nearly so.

Mr. Donegan dismisses Donald Trump's statement that he would be a "dictator, but only on my first day," then gives us his definition of dictator, which fails to mention that one of the characteristics of a dictator is a person who cannot be removed from office using peaceful means. In the U.S., that would include almost certainly not leaving office after losing the vote.

He dismisses the Jan. 6 riots as an attempt to subvert our republic because the riots were a "harebrained scheme that couldn't possibly have succeeded." His analysis should be communicated to Mar-a-Lago because Trump is still spending a lot of time and other people's money trying to convince the public that the 2020 election was "stolen," a lie that was the main impetus behind the riots. And if Trump thought the whole scheme was harebrained, why did he do nothing for three hours while he watched his supporters attack the Capitol building on TV? Trump still calls the violent rioters "patriots." Can anyone deny that the whole event looked a lot more like a coup that nearly succeeded than a town-hall meeting where people air their grievances?

We are told that we needn't worry about Trump becoming a dictator because his support is "too weak." That is not what I see when I watch Fox or read comments from people like John Donegan. Could the purpose of his statements be to lull us into complacency so we do not realize what a real danger Trump could be to our country and democracy itself until it is too late?

Trump has scared most Republican politicians into agreeing with everything he says because they have realized that without his support, none of them can get re-elected. People he slandered and ridiculed, like Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, and Ron DeSantis now sing his praises. Is their support based on ideology or fear and intimidation? Federal judges like Aileen Cannon and even several Supreme Court justices have shown a clear bias and more than a hint of corruption. This raises serious questions about their impartiality and their ability to ensure that government follows our Constitution rather than the whims and demands of one man. And Trump's daughter-in-law now conveniently runs the Republican National Committee, a position that allows him to control the party's finances to his benefit.

It is true that the 22nd Amendment protects us somewhat. But couldn't a puppet take office in 2028 that effectively allowed Trump to rule on? Trump and his cohorts—and possibly his family could use gerrymandering, intimidation, money, revenge, hate, biased courts, and outright lies to place themselves in a position where it would be almost impossible for them to lose an election.

Trump himself said that he would exact "revenge" on anyone who had opposed him, a statement that was echoed by several others in his party. Anyone who dared challenge Trump or his chosen successors could be prosecuted, intimidated, or worse. Would people oppose them if they feared for their livelihoods?

And if Trump loses a close election in 2024, would he admit it? Are you certain? What means might his supporters use the next time in their attempt to change the outcome of an election? Even if claims of election fraud were raised, would Trump's supporters wait for the courts to determine the truth in order to settle the issue, or would they use any means, including intimidation and violence to put their idol in power? Is it possible that they have learned enough from the failure of their Jan. 6 "harebrained scheme" to be more successful in their coup attempts this time? If his supporters become very violent, should we grudgingly allow them to change the outcome of a fair—but close election to prevent widespread bloodshed?

Trump and many of his allies have actually praised Putin. Do they secretly wish to emulate his nearly absolute hold on power?

While we will have the choice of two flawed candidates in November, only one is a safe choice. Only one will place the needs of the country over revenge and hatred and the quest for power.

The danger of another Trump presidency is real, and he and other members of his party that hold their extremist ideology need to be stopped before they become unstoppable. Δ

Charles Linquist writes to New Times from Arroyo Grande. Send a response for publication by emailing it to [email protected].

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