Tyrannos To Tyrant?
Greece is usually given the credit for introducing the world to “democracy” as a method of governing. Of course, early Greek democracy does not resemble what we know to be Democracy in the 21st century, but in comparison to kings and pharaohs lead organizations, Greek Democracy was a radical departure. Hmmm.
President-elect Trump is poised to become President Trump and a fair question to ask is will the Trump Presidency begin with Tyrannos Trump and proceed to Tyrant Trump, or is the US democracy strong enough to overcome partisan attacks?
Democracies are difficult forms of government to maintain. Citizens are required to participate in law making as well as seeing that laws are followed. Citizens normally perform these tasks by thoughtfully choosing representatives who in turn propose, debate and create the laws upon which the greater population will be governed. Citizens also select a chief executive who commands military resources which will protect the country as a whole. The Chief Executive, through various agencies ensures the laws are observed.
What happens when citizens do not take the task of picking representatives and the chief executive seriously enough. What happens when citizens think disproportionately about themselves and their own perceived needs and place little or no importance on the country as a whole?
Long ago the Greeks encountered just such a situation. Their answer was to willingly ceed ever greater amounts of power to their selected ruler. In time that ruler held ultimate power. The Greeks called these persons Tyrannos, or in modern English, Tyrants. Is the US on a similar path with the election of Donald Trump?
Tyrannos is a priori neither good nor evil, wise or misguided, nor effective or tragically ineffective. A “Tyrannos” is someone a democratic society has given more and more authority, without appropriate limits, normally to solve some great problem facing the country.
History has shown, however, that Tyrannos are never satisfied until they have achieved absolute power, and usually attempt to discard inconveniences of democratic governance in favor of authoritarian measures. Today we liken dictators to Tyrants.
I wonder whether we are seeing the early signs of this phenomena with President-elect Trump?
One can argue that Republicans won by combining two large groups. Conservative Republicans looked the other way with respect to decency, experience, and integrity, voting for someone who they thought could solve societal problems. Another group was composed of middle of the road citizens who had been hurt by globalization and lower wage immigrant labor. This group were willing to cast aside “the traditional American way” if there was a chance to regain their vision of the “American Dream”.
Candidate Donald Trump promised these voters (both groups) what they wanted.
In return, Trump asserted new powers by ignoring past practices, speaking mistruths and spreading misinformation, and marginalizing the press. Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, his refusal to insulate himself ethically from his business holdings, and his vindictive, crude, personal attacks on individuals are clearly designed to intimidate. These are also all signs of a Tyrant’s MO.
America’s democracy is still robust given world standards. Trump’s victory in November appears by all current information to have been fare and square. Donald J Trump will become the 45th US President. But it doesn’t stop there.
All Americans, supporters of Trump or not, still need to stay involved with our democracy. Congress, even one under Republican control, and the Supreme Court, even one soon to be Conservative in majority have important roles to play in ensuring the Trump Administration respects the Constitutions and the Rule of Law.
Should Congress members trade balance of power responsibilities for Trump’s support of their favorite legislation, in essence allowing Congress to look the other way, voters must take note.
As citizens, if we care about democracy, we must not look the other way and remember in two years which legislators did not show up for duty. The 2016 election was very close. The 115th Congress has been selected and will do what it deems best. The 116th, however, is just months away.
If President Trump fails to deliver on his promises, attempts to continue flaunting laws and precedents, or openly tries to claim more power, the ballot box can assist voters in taking back their democracy.