What to expect in the second term, per the fourth estate.
One of the fads in the liberal media is Trump horror stories—Apocalypse Trump, should he be re-elected president.
The Los Angeles Times gets you the inside baseball action with an article headlined “Trump promises vengeance and power grabs if he wins in 2024. Here’s the plan.” Save yourself the trouble of looking; there are no named sources to almost any of these descriptions of Trump 2.0, though they are presented as certainties.
The Times begins with Inauguration Day, stating as fact “anticipating widespread protests against his second term, Trump and allies reportedly are drafting plans to invoke the Insurrection Act in his first hours back in the White House—thereby confirming the expected protesters’ likely point: Trump is a danger to liberty and constitutional governance.” The author doesn't seem to remember how the Insurrection Act, last used in 1992 to quell riots in L.A., did not end liberty and/or the Constitution. (But it wasn’t Trump, you see!)
And that’s just one of many MAGA plans in the works, as the Washington Post reported, all aimed at making good on what the writer feels is Trump’s central promise of the 2024 campaign: retribution. According to the Post, Trump allies are “mapping out specific plans for using the federal government to punish critics and opponents,” even naming individuals to be prosecuted. Ironic, given Trump has been double-chin–deep in five legal battles, two with the federal government, since he left office, and that the FBI was used even while he was in office to spy on him in an effort to prove he was a Russian agent.
It’s ironic Trump has all these supposed plans to use the judicial system against his enemies. First, of course, because, having declared himself something of a dictator, you’d think Trump could bypass all that innocent-until-proven-guilty stuff that bogs down trials to just kick in doors. Why would Dictator Trump bother with “justice” at all? After all, wrote the Los Angeles Times, “His obnoxious outbursts this week in his New York civil trial over financial skulduggery were just the latest evidence of his disdain for the law and the judicial system.”
No one will be immune from his attacks. Jen Psaki warned MSNBC viewers that if Trump regains office, he will “unravel the rule of law as we know it.” Jamelle Bouie of the New York Times said that “it looks an awful lot like a set of plans meant to give the former president the power and unchecked authority of a strongman.”
One cornerstone of Apocalypse Trump theories is that he controls a zombie army of MAGA believers he can direct against adversaries—“targeting,” in the words of one judge. Another reason to question his “planned” use of the court system. Why not just release the hounds? After all, why not make good on his claim that, under the Constitution’s Article II, “I have the right to do whatever I want as president”?
Nonetheless, the system it is. Trump has vowed to appoint a special prosecutor to “go after” President Biden and his family. The Washington Post reported Trump told advisers he wants the Justice Department to investigate his former chief of staff, John Kelly, his former attorney general Bill Barr, as well as his ex-attorney Ty Cobb and former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley. Trump also talks of prosecuting officials at the FBI/Justice Department.
Here’s how it will work, using justice to commit unjust acts. The Post, to the rescue of the confused, said, “To facilitate Trump’s ability to direct Justice Department actions, his associates have been drafting plans to dispense with 50 years of policy and practice intended to shield criminal prosecutions from political considerations.”
“It would resemble a banana republic if people came into office and started going after their opponents willy-nilly,” Saikrishna Prakash, a constitutional law professor at the University of Virginia, told the Post. “It’s hardly something we should aspire to.”
If irony were water, we’d all have drowned by now.
It wouldn’t be a party unless the New York Times weighed in. They succinctly stated, “Donald J. Trump and his allies are planning a sweeping expansion of presidential power over the machinery of government if voters return him to the White House in 2025, reshaping the structure of the executive branch to concentrate far greater authority directly in his hands. Mr. Trump intends to bring independent agencies under direct presidential control.”
He’ll do this by “stripping employment protections from tens of thousands of career civil servants, making it easier to replace them if they are deemed obstacles to his agenda. He plans to scour the intelligence agencies, the State Department and the defense bureaucracies to remove officials he has vilified as ‘the sick political class that hates our country.’”
In turn, the New Republic offered an article headlined “Inside Trump’s Fascist Plan to Control All Federal Agencies if He Wins.” Tom Nichols wrote in the Atlantic that there are “plans for a dictatorship that should appall every American.”
Let’s not forget everyone’s favorite Apocalypse Trump subject, immigration. There, according to the New York Times, Trump is conjuring up “sweeping raids, giant camps and mass deportations.”
The Times claims, “If he regains power, Donald Trump wants not only to revive some of the immigration policies criticized as draconian during his presidency, but expand and toughen them.”
Trump supposedly plans to ban people from Muslim-majority nations and reimpose a Covid-era policy of refusing asylum claims based on his feeling migrants carry other infectious diseases like tuberculosis. He plans to deputize local police officers and the National Guard voluntarily contributed by Republican-run states to carry out sweeping raids. And to get around any refusal by Congress to appropriate funds, Trump would redirect money in the military budget.
Are you not entertained? That may be the only purpose of the Apocalypse Trump genre: garnering clicks. It stands to reason that to keep the snowball rolling, the claims toward the Apocalypse, the tall tales, need to become increasingly dramatic, topping yesterday’s dopamine hit. Do a quick Google search using the phrase “Trump will seize control” to see the latest alongside the greatest hits.
These types of stories were popular during Trump 1.0, putting words into his mouth and distorting those that came out, assigning nefarious intent to even the simplest Executive Order. A favorite fretted over Trump seizing control of the FEMA emergency broadcast system and the whole Internet to disseminate propaganda and control his minions. NBC News helpfully uncovered the fact “Trump can’t use FEMA’s wireless alerts to send personal messages” a question which apparently had not come up previously in the 70-odd-years the original Cold War system has been in place.
A second driver of all this “journalism” is a desperate attempt to convince on-the-fence voters to not vote for Trump. After all, the Los Angeles Times made their intent for this advocacy pretty clear: “Too many voters are disengaged, grumpy that their choice seems to be coming down to Trump vs. Biden. As if those choices were comparably distasteful when, in fact, one is vanilla and the other is nitroglycerin.”
The idea is to use the tools of the media to scare the proles into not voting for Trump for fear of bringing on the end of Constitutional government in the United States. You’d think people would be tired by now of these “sky is falling” pronouncements, but apparently you'd be wrong given the sheer bulk of them, and the crazier-than-last-time feel most have.
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The possible effectiveness of this strategy assumes most Trump voters, something close to 50 percent of the entire country, are too dumb to see what is right in front of them—fascism itself. But since Trump has not been kind enough to write out a Mein Kampf–like manifesto of all the dastardly deeds he intends to do, America’s liberal media has to do it for him.
Never mind that Trump is the only recent president not to start or join a new war; he is a war monger. Never mind Trump tried to restart relations with North Korea via old-fashioned diplomacy; we are on the verge of nuclear disaster. Never mind the state of the economy or the decisions on Covid that resonate well in hindsight; he is wrong, clownishly wrong. Never mind that Trump has participated according to the law in every legal action against him; he does not believe in the rule of law.
Oh, and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is so scared about what will happen in Term 2.0 that he is planning to leave the country. So there is an upside, anyway.