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King Donald

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The Dangers of Resurrection

While Donald Trump's first term as president was marked by inexperience and incompetence which limited his ability to fully pursue his authoritarian aspirations, there are concerns that if he were to be re-elected for a second term, he and his GOP allies would seek to consolidate power and reshape the government to grant him more authority.

During his first term, Trump's lack of government experience and political allies resulted in a chaotic administration with frequent staff turnover and difficulties in pushing his agenda through Congress. His rejection of rules and constant political scandals, including the Mueller investigation and two impeachments, also hindered his ability to govern effectively.

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Despite these weaknesses, Trump managed to forge an alliance with the Federalist Society, which enabled him to appoint numerous conservative judges, including three Supreme Court justices. This success solidified his position as the leader of the Republican Party, turning it into a personality cult where most lawmakers supported him even after his failed coup attempt in January 2021.

Should Trump win the Republican presidential nomination for a third time and secure a second term as president, he and his allies plan to vastly expand presidential power and reduce checks on his authority. This agenda, developed by institutions like the Heritage Foundation and former White House personnel chief John McEntee, seeks to increase the number of political appointments to 50,000, allowing Trump to remove anyone in the bureaucracy who opposes him. It also aims to assert presidential control over independent agencies, giving Trump more power to reward supporters and punish adversaries.

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This push for greater presidential power is rooted in the concept of the unitary executive, which views the president as having broad control over the entire federal government, with limited checks from Congress or the courts. Trump's personal resentment towards the so-called ‘deep state’ has merged with long-standing Republican animosity towards the administrative state, making this agenda appealing to the GOP beyond Trump's personality.

Some pundits are already warning that Trump has learned from his first term and now has a GOP that aligns with his authoritarian goals. Even if the courts have previously opposed some of his executive orders, there are concerns they might be willing to support his efforts to expand presidential authority in the future.

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In a two-party system like the US, it will now fall to Democrats to make it clear to voters that a second Trump presidency - or a similar copycat candidate like Ron DeSantis - would further erode democratic norms and concentrate power in the hands of the president, turning the US presidency into an autocracy.

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