Letter: Want a dictator? Be careful what you wish for

Posted 2/27/24

We have seen ordinary Americans say on camera that we need Donald Trump to be a dictator, because “America needs a dictator now.” Presumably, they feel that a dictator will be able …

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Letter: Want a dictator? Be careful what you wish for


We have seen ordinary Americans say on camera that we need Donald Trump to be a dictator, because “America needs a dictator now.” Presumably, they feel that a dictator will be able to get things done. They are right; dictators do get things done. The question is what those “things” are.  And who gets done.

History tells us that dictators first and foremost get rid of their enemies. Lenin and Stalin murdered about 100 million of their own people, including dozens of very close associates. Remember Mao?  His Great Leap Forward left millions to die of famine, killings, and disease. Hitler killed six million Jews and at least five million more Poles, gypsies, homosexuals, and the lame. Skip over North Korea where dictators have killed generals and family members they thought were disloyal. Ah, remember Chile where “disappearances” were common and where the chosen few were tossed out of airborne helicopters, thanks to their dictator?

 So, we need a dictator here in America. Really? Consider the following scenario. Trump will have huge, tented detention centers built in Texas. His officials will then begin mass deportations of all “illegals,” no matter how long they have lived and worked and raised families in America. If mass public demonstrations follow, Trump will invoke the Insurrection Act and call out the military to “restore order.” The military, actually the nationalized Army National Guard from “red” states, will be ordered to fire on the crowds of demonstrators, in they feel threatened. If that happens, all bets are off. 

Wait! That could never happen here! Well, yes it could happen here. But ...

Example: When thousands of mainly peaceful people demonstrated when George Floyd was murdered by police, Trump approved arrests by federal agents in uniforms without names or patches.

Example: Trump has called for the shooting of Army generals deemed disloyal to him.

Example: Trump has openly threatened to lock up his political opponents.

Example: Trump has actually claimed in court that he, as an ex-president, is immune from all prosecutions. That claim, if granted by the Supreme Court, would allow Trump, if re-elected, to order unlawful acts with impunity. 

To Trump supporters who value freedom and liberty: Be careful what you wish for. Your freedom and liberty will vanish, too. Remember how Trump has treated former colleagues, even his vice president. A dictator is not some predictable, pleasant MAGA man. A dictator is, by definition, a corrupt megalomaniac who has no friends or allies, only enemies and agents. Every tenet of our Constitution and every protection of the rule of law will disappear immediately if a dictator takes power in America. There is no “first day only” dictatorship. Why? Because again, as history tells us, if a dictator loses power, the end is always his exile or death. For dictators remaining in power is absolutely essential.

When Trump tried to undermine the peaceful transfer of power after the last election, he broke the law and now faces court trials. How quaint all that would sound in a dictatorship. Dictators always use the courts to punish opponents. They can, because they control and direct the courts. Putin certainly does so. Trump will certainly follow his lead. 

Will Newman


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.