If you Google "Donald Trump" plus "dictator," you will get more than one million hits. As you might imagine, almost none of them are favorable, especially from the folks on the left. Univision anchor Jorge Ramos was among the first to spot Trump's inner Mussolini. After being shut down by Trump at a press conference in August, he lamented, "Those are things you see in dictatorships, not in America."
"The Daily Show" host Trevor Noah compared Trump to potentates Idi Amin and Robert Mugabe and teased America - with the impunity allowed a progressive of color - to "elect its first African president." The headline of Barbara Hammond's piece in the Huffington Post cut right to the chase. "Donald Trump, Dictator?" she asked. Not surprisingly, Hammond answered in the affirmative, adding the explanation, common in media quarters, "Trump and his followers take the prize for ignorance of our constitution."
One would think that our progressive friends, indignant as they are about Trump's potential for constitutional mischief, would insist that President Barack Obama honor that venerable document. This, however, presumes much too much consistency from the Obama faithful. To the degree that they have noticed Obama's assumption of imperial powers, they have applauded it.
In early 2014 New Yorker editor and Obama fanboy David Remnick wrote about his experience accompanying Obama on a west coast fund raising tour. At one stop, when Obama walked out on stage, "It happened again: another heckler broke into Obama's speech. A man in the balcony repeatedly shouted out, 'Executive order!,' demanding that the president bypass Congress with more unilateral actions." Obama confirmed to the audience that, yes, people did want him to sign more executive orders and "basically nullify Congress." At that point, wrote Remnick, "Many in the crowd applauded their approval. Yes! Nullify it!" These were not wild-eyed tent dwellers on Wall or some lesser street. These were the Democrats' educated base, the same people who worry that Trump and his ignorant followers will trample the Constitution.
In the two years since, none of the president's many and consequential executive orders - open borders, anyone? - have caused his fans to rethink their fondness for bypassing Congress, even on constitutionally grounded issues such as the right to bear arms.
"We may not have a Congress that's willing to work with us on this right now," said Obama recently on the subject of gun control. "So the rest of us will have to do what we can." In reality, "the rest of us" means President Barack Obama. Obama doesn't see it that way. "That's the work of citizenship," he said last week, "to stand up and fight for the change that we seek." No, Mr. President, the only relevant "we" are the people's representatives in Congress.
As I write this, the same pundits that fret anxiously about a Trump dictatorship wait breathlessly for Obama's promised executive order on gun control. The reporting on this imminent executive action betrays not the least anxiety about dictatorial usurpation. Politico talks about Obama's "bid to assert himself" as a way to "make progress on curbing gun violence." CNN writes approvingly that Obama's executive actions "would fulfill a promise by the president to take further unilateral steps the administration says could help curb gun deaths." Who could possibly be opposed to self-assertion, progress and the curbing of gun deaths, even if done unilaterally?
If the current crop of progressives is OK with the selective demolition of the Constitution, old-school civil libertarians are not. Long time Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff spotted trouble coming early. "I am beginning to think that this guy is a phony," he told an interviewer. "Obama seems to have no firm principles that I can discern that he will adhere to." Hentoff, who had been a sharp critic of George W. Bush, thought Obama much more dangerous. "Obama is a bad man in terms of the Constitution," he said. "The irony is that Obama was a law professor at the University of Chicago. He would, most of all, know that what he is doing weakens the Constitution." Hentoff said this in December 2009. Obama still had seven years of weakening ahead of him and his fans seven more years of applauding.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessary represent those of Headlines and Global News.
An independent writer and producer, Jack Cashill has written 11 books since 2000, nine of which have been featured on C-SPAN's "Book TV." He has also produced a score of documentaries for regional PBS and national cable channels. Jack has written for Fortune, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The Weekly Standard. He has a Ph.D. from Purdue University in American studies.