Why is Donald Trump So Fascinated with Authoritarian Dictators?

Oakland University professor Peter Trumbore on characteristics of potential authoritarians: “They all fit Donald Trump to a tee.”

Jake Neher/WDET

Several days ago, President Donald Trump told friends that he admired Chinese President Xi Jinping for consolidating power and eliminating his own term limits. Trump joked that perhaps America would consider doing the same for his presidency. While it was a joke, it’s a disturbing thing for any American president to say, especially as the world leader of democratic values.

But Trump has never shown much interest in democratic values abroad. The men he has shown admiration for the most on the world stage are dictators and authoritarian figures — Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin chief among them. Trump is also quite fond of the royal family of Saudi Arabia, and he’s even given veiled reverence for North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

Should we be worried about a president that has so much respect for un-democratic figures, or confident that our democracy is stronger than any individual, no matter his rank?   

Oakland University political science professor Peter Trumbore joins Detroit Today to discuss Trump’s fascination with authoritarian leaders. He says Trump shares many characteristics of authoritarian leaders, such as his disdain for certain democratic processes and his refusal to immediately recognize the results of the 2016 election.

Trumbore says the Republicans have a choice to make between prioritizing Trump or the country. He says that Republicans have chosen to use Trump to achieve goals like tax cuts instead of making a stand against his authoritarian tendencies.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.


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