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

 

What kind of damage can a Trump Cabinet do?

Jeff Sessions

If we were to search for the absolute best leaders for the different cabinet positions in the White House, we’d find Trump’s picks directly opposite them. A cabinet leader should support the mission of his or her cabinet, and seek to ensure it operates to the best of its ability. Trump’s picks have been, almost universally and vehemently, opposed to both the work and the premise of the organizations they’ve been picked to lead.

I shudder at who Trump will pick for Department of Interior and the EPA, and suspect that they’ll be very similar to Ronald Reagan’s picks of James G. Watt and Anne Gorsuch, respectively. Both individuals loathed the federal government. Watt spent his short tenure as Department of Interior trying to give away public land resource rights to every polluting industry in the United States, and Anne Gorsuch packed the EPA with industry cronies, starved it of money, and did everything in her power to stop it from enforcing laws it was tasked with enforcing.

The only saving grace is they were so controversial, so inept, and so fanatical that both were forced to resign within their first terms. Even then, their efforts damaged and demoralized the departments they led.

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Can Trump Create the Terminator Rule?

Donald Trump at rally

Rather than a press conference or interview, Trump put out a video seemingly to assure Americans that we don’t have to spend our days and nights in absolute terror because he’s in charge. Flip to the end: he didn’t succeed.

All Trump did was create confusion. Reading the transcript doesn’t provide more clarity.

There is much in the short Trump video to cause one sleepless nights, but the Trump promise that really grabbed me is his promise of a rule to kill rules:

On regulation, I will formulate a rule which says that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated, it’s so important.

In effect, he’s proposing a Terminator Rule.

Leaving aside the soundness of just tossing rules and regulations aside, can Trump as President create a Terminator Rule?

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