If you ask progressives on the Left, even some moderates, you will probably here an answer in the affirmative. I’ve been guilty of it–no, I won’t take it back–and will probably continue to do so if only because I feel that his brand of rule isn’t democratic, nor do I think he really cares about our democracy and institutions. It’s fairly clear from his tweets that he doesn’t hold any regard for checks and balances. Pay close a
Corey Robin, who studies Conservativism and the politics of fear, notes that:
Here’s what I learned about Fear, American Style: The worst, most terrible things that the United States has done have almost never happened through an assault on American institutions; they’ve always happened through American institutions and practices. These are the elements of the American polity that have offered especially potent tools and instruments of intimidation and coercion: federalism, the separation of powers, social pluralism, and the rule of law. All the elements of the American experience that liberals and conservatives have so cherished as bulwarks of American freedom have also been sources and instruments of political fear. In all the cases I looked at, coercion, intimidation, repression, and violence were leveraged through these mechanisms, not in spite of them.
To explain, American Imperialism, genocide, slavery, Jim Crow, the surveillance state were allowed to happen because our institutions were set up in a way that it let it happen. Americans were the ones inflicting pain on others. The Trump era has brought a completely different kind of attack. This time our institutions are attacking the American people. This attack on institutions themselves could potentially lead to an unprecendented amount of power for Trump and his inner circle.
In How to Build An Autocracy, David Frum states
Over the past generation, we have seen ominous indicators of a breakdown of the American political system: the willingness of congressional Republicans to push the United States to the brink of a default on its national obligations in 2013 in order to score a point in budget negotiations; Barack Obama’s assertion of a unilateral executive power to confer legal status upon millions of people illegally present in the United States—despite his own prior acknowledgment that no such power existed.
Sam Wang, a neuroscientist at Princeton who developed the Princeton Election Consortium, developed a checklist to determine if the new administration is authoritarian or not. Trump has managed to check of 5/10 of them and he isn’t even a month into his term.