Dan Rattiner's Stories

Trump: Demagogue, Potential Tyrant or Just Arrested Development?

If there are two people in a room during these particular times, one of them likely is for Donald Trump and the other is not. If they talk, they get themselves all worked up, particularly those who are fearful of what will happen if Mr. Trump becomes president.

A frequent phrase used by those opposed to Mr. Trump is that he is a demagogue. But I don’t think that adequately describes it. A demagogue, if you look it up, is a tub-thumper, a crowd pleaser, a manipulator, a firebrand and an agitator. None of those things adequately describes why people fear what will happen if he becomes president. I am one of those who fear him being president. I am looking further at this.

Some weeks ago, I described how, one Saturday night, when I was a teenager, I did a really dumb thing. Teenagers often do dumb things. I got caught up in a plan, devised by one of my friends, that resulted in the five of us hopping in a car (one of us had a car), driving to the street corner in the center of town where we lived, dropping off Paul—the smallest of us—driving around the block and then pulling up alongside him, all getting out, “subduing” him after a struggle and then bundling him into the trunk of the car and driving off.

We’d earlier found a black plastic replica of a 45mm pistol on the floor of the backseat of the car—a toy dropped there by the four-year-old brother of the driver of the car. We’d brandish it. This would be great fun. It would scare the bejezzus out of everybody in town. And we did it.

Somehow we all survived this idiocy. We were brought into a police station late that night—one of the terrified pedestrians had written down the license plate number—and we were given a tongue lashing by the police chief at that hour. We could have been killed, he told us. Well, we were teenagers. He dismissed us into the custody of our fathers who—this was at 3 a.m.—were present at this tongue lashing and took us home to let us know to never do this again.

I think we can all agree that this is adolescent behavior, and a good example of it. This is why we are not responsible for our actions to any great extent until our brains reach the age of 18.

Those who never get past this, never grow up, and just continue with this sort of behavior into their adult lives, we refer to as suffering from arrested development.

This is what I think the Donald suffers from, with all his charm and wistful promises. This is why many people, even those in the Republican Party, have said he is unfit to be President. And that is why he is dangerous.

Here are examples.

Mr. Trump has for six months or more refused to release his tax returns. The reason, he has said, is because he is undergoing an audit. Anybody who wants to look into this will quickly find out that being audited does not prevent anyone from showing someone else his or her tax returns.

Other reasons he has given are that it is nobody’s business what his tax returns say, that the recently disclosed 1995 tax returns that The New York Times discovered are not his, that it must be somebody who does not like him who did this—who DID this!—and, most recently, that his tax returns show he is a “genius” for finding a loophole that permits him not to pay taxes and he’s actually proud of it.

Adults, hearing this sort of thing from a teenager, will simply shake their heads in amazement.

I mean—so why didn’t you reveal your tax returns in the first place?

Here’s another.

Just minutes after the conclusion of the first debate (I am writing this after the first debate but before the second), media of all stripes put up polls you could enter online to check off if you thought Trump had won or if Hillary had won.

Having learned these flash polls would be taking place ahead of time, Trump told all his followers to go to the sites involved—including CNN, Breitbart, the Hill, Drudge, Slate and others–and use techniques involving bots, vote brigading, and other forms of manipulation to highjack the voting methods and twist them around so that by overriding the site’s voting rules, Trump won. Some of these polls showed a margin as wide as 76% for Trump, 24% for Hillary.

“I won the debate,” Trump tweeted afterwards. “What a great honor.”

Hey, you fixed it.

I need only mention the “locker room talk” on the bus with that guy Billy Bush.

An adult suffering from arrested development is expected to do this sort of thing. Everybody has a crazy uncle in the family who is loveable, funny, outrageous and sometimes thin-skinned. Don’t mess with them. That’s just him. He doesn’t even know he’s doing it.

Indeed, in Trump’s case, he has followers who will tell you that this is why they want to vote for him. He’s gonna shake the apples right off the tree. So why not let him try?

Well, we have a very carefully figured-out democracy with a constitution, constitutional amendments, rights and freedoms that are very precious to us.

Early on, when Trump began his run, I wrote a story that this was not about Trump vs. the rest of those running for office, it was more about Trump running against Democracy.

I expressed the belief that the frameworks provided by our founding fathers would be able to withstand someone who might want to push them aside. If they failed, we’d be in a dictatorship. That would be terrible. It’s never happened.

But what would you make of a president who says that an American judge who ruled against him in a civil matter before he became a presidential candidate should be fired because he is a Mexican who knows Trump wants to build a wall against Mexicans?

What would you make of a president who says that if any of his supporters beat up a protester, he’ll pay the medical bills of the supporter if in doing so he is injured?

What would you make of a president who says that if the vote is against him, the fix was in, and he wants all his supporters to go down to the polling places on the morning of Election Day to make sure there’s no hanky-panky going on at the local polling site? (If he loses, Hillary fixed the election. If he wins, no problem.)

I am not exaggerating when I say that if large numbers of his people come down to the polling places and they get angry, we’ll have a big problem. I suggest lots of police be assigned down there for the day, and for people to be ready to call the National Guard. Americans have the freedom to speak, the freedom to vote, the freedom to have a fair trial, the freedom to assemble—I could go on.

We should also have our best techies in place to make sure that Trump supporters (Putin?) don’t successfully hack the vote.

We’ve had charming, we’ve had actors, we’ve had haberdashers, we’ve had dumb, we’ve had slave owners, drunks and war hawks, we’ve had all sorts of presidents step into the Oval Office.

It would be dangerous to have arrested development.

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