THOMAS M.J. Bateman Discusses Trump, Tyranny, and Newell's Tyrants: A History of Power, Injustice, and Terror

April 27, 2018

In his Inaugural Address, President Trump intoned that “we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.” He praised the “just and reasonable demands of a righteous people and a righteous public.”

 

The Trump rhetoric evoked a strain in all democratic politics, since such governments are indeed to follow in some sense the will of the people. But the populist conceit is that The People form a single and coherent whole whose mind is discernible, with the populist leader liable to claim clairvoyance as to what that mind holds. In this way can the ostensible servant become the master—and hence the destroyer of democracy. Should Americans fear a latent tyrannical impulse in their populist President? Is he indeed a populist?

 

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