In Upper New York Bay there stands the colossal Statue of Liberty, a universal symbol of freedom. She is also the Mother of Immigrants, embodying hope and opportunity for those seeking a better life in America. She stirs the desire for liberty in people all over the world. She represents the United States itself. However… In the last few weeks, the flame of freedom from her torch has started to flicker.In just two weeks, President Trump’s unlawful decisions and his unprecedented pressures on judges to rule in his favour have shaken the fundamentals of U.S. Democracy. For many, this indicates that Trump has hidden plans to turn the U.S. authoritarian to gain power. However, it won’t be possible without dominating the Supreme Court.The U.S. Supreme Court is the final court of appeal and final expositor of the Constitution of the United States. It marks the boundaries of authority between state and nation, state and state, and government and citizen. It has the jurisdiction to determine whether Trump’s decisions are unlawful or not.
The Supreme Court is composed of nine members, four of which are currently Republican, and the other four liberal. The recent nomination of Neil Gorsuch (a Republican) to sit on the Supreme Court has set off all alarms. His presidency would tilt the balance for Republicans, and it could help Trump to accumulate an absolute power.
President Trump’s crusade to dominate courts and judges from all over the U.S. started when Judge James Robart, of the Federal District Court in Seattle, issued a temporary restraining Trump’s executive order to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. In response, Trump increased his pressures on Judges until days before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a temporary suspension.Trump said:
Another indication of the U.S. transition into an authoritarian state is so-called alternative facts. Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer suggested that the U.S. government could “sometimes disagree” with real facts presented by the Media.
“Sometimes we can disagree with the facts,” Sean Spicer said.
“Trump’s team is offering alternative facts to media reports,” Kellyanne Conway said.
Trump started his attacks against the mainstream media during the last presidential campaign. Back then, several outlets plotted with Clinton and his aides to help her to win the election. Trump is now using it to fabricate stories to convince citizens that the only honest information comes from government sources.
As if this was not enough, on February 1, Republicans voted successfully to change the Congress rules to elect nominees without Democrats. It happened days later; Trump suggested them to “go nuclear” if Democrats tried to halt any of his decisions. Trump added:
“If we end up with that gridlock, I would say, if you can, Mitch, go nuclear,””Because that would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was put up to that neglect,” he said of Gorsuch, a federal circuit court judge. “So I would say, it’s up to Mitch, but I would say go for it.”
As we can see, there are many indicators that Trump’s government has initiated the U.S. transition from democracy to authoritarianism. However, to dissipate doubts, one must compare Trump’s decisions with dictators from other countries. All authoritarian states share in common an underlying structure based in the re-centralization of power. The following list describes some basic structure of a dictatorship:
1.Little or no freedom of speech
2.No freedom to hold meetings without the approval of the government.
3.No freedom of movement-individuals needs documents/internal passports to move around inside the country.
4.No freedom to travel abroad.
5.No independent justice system.
6.Promote alternative facts and censor the Mainstream media.
7.Any opposition to the regime is punished.
8.Change rules of government’s institutions.
It is evident then that President Trump has already implemented several basic structures from the list to do a U-turn into an authoritarian state. He has started his crusade against the media, changed the rules of the Congress, attempted to end with the neutrality of the judicial system and violated the U.S. Constitution. However, while the flame of the freedom of the Statue of Liberty is still burning, there will be hope and citizens, union workers and organisations will have the last word…