No, Trump and his Admin are not planning a coup

Airport protest

We have so many real problems and serious dangers associated with a Trump administration partnered with a compliant Congress. We don’t need to generate fictional dangers based on happenstance and conspiracy.

Yonatan Younger wrote a compelling and well-sourced text laying out the various arguments that what Trump’s administration is doing is equivalent to performing a coup. His conclusions:

  1. Trump was, indeed, perfectly honest during the campaign; he intends to do everything he said, and more. This should not be reassuring to you.
  2. The regime’s main organizational goal right now is to transfer all effective power to a tight inner circle, eliminating any possible checks from either the Federal bureaucracy, Congress, or the Courts. Departments are being reorganized or purged to effect this.
  3. The inner circle is actively probing the means by which they can seize unchallenged power; yesterday’s moves should be read as the first part of that.
  4. The aims of crushing various groups — Muslims, Latinos, the black and trans communities, academics, the press — are very much primary aims of the regime, and are likely to be acted on with much greater speed than was earlier suspected. The secondary aim of personal enrichment is also very much in play, and clever people will find ways to play these two goals off each other.

He has valid points. However, where he fails is in overestimating the capability of the Trump Administration.

What can be seen as a deliberate attempt to transfer all power to a tight inner circle is more easily explained by understanding that Trump’s administration is the most inexperienced administration to take over the Presidency in modern times. This inexperience is compounded by the fact that our new President is not the brightest bulb in the box, but believes he is so by his own narcissism. His very volatile, one can even say infantile, mentality, which cannot handle any form of challenge, leads  the more rational members of his team to abrogate responsibility and common sense.

People close to Trump are not only inexperienced, but many came into this administration with extremist, authoritarian views. Yes, Steve Bannon and Mike Flynn come to mind.  They’re as likely to override standard procedure just because they can, rather than because they’re interested in the government working effectively and efficiently. They can do so because the United States government is based on the idea that the best and brightest are chosen to lead—not a bunch of drunk, stupid keystone cops.

Regardless, none of the Trump administration actions presupposes a coup. All of their actions are occurring within a Constitutional framework and abetted by a complicit Congress.

When Trump signed his abysmal executive order leaving many legal immigrants and dual citizens stranded in airports, he did so because he can issue any executive order and the federal government will seek to uphold it unless a court intervenes, or the law is so blatantly outside the norm, federal employees refuse to enforce it. Trump’s Muslim ban is Constitutionally challenged, but not necessarily sufficiently abnormal for federal employees to refuse enforcement.

Courts did intervene. Multiple courts. If there are federal employees who disregard a court order, it’s because they’re confused or incompetent, not because of some grand scheme on the part of Trump/Bannon—both of whom who are also confused, and incompetent.

This fiasco came about because of decisions we voters made. Because we didn’t vote, or because we didn’t care, or Jill Stein convinced people Clinton would be worse, or we wanted to mix things up by putting someone like Trump in charge, we made a choice. Or I should say, people in some states, made a choice.

We have a government led by a profoundly incapable leader, surrounded by zealots and syncopates, with a broken, incomplete leadership. This administration was put into place by an antiquated electoral system that devalues the individual voter. But it’s all legal, and allowed.

Trump’s administration is an abomination, but it’s not a coup.

Photo courtesy Kenneth Lu CC BY 2.0