Across the globe, elected leaders are seeking to kill democracy and assert themselves as rulers for life in their countries.
In March 2018, Donald Trump, addressing a crowd of donors at his Florida estate, told what sounded like a joke. He was talking about the recent amendment of China’s constitution to remove presidential term limits, allowing Xi Jinping to serve in that office indefinitely. About Xi, Trump said: “He’s now president for life, president for life. And he’s great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give it a shot someday.” The crowd cheered and applauded in response. In fact, Trump has told one version or another of this joke many times since becoming president.
And though Trump’s remarks are generally perceived as facetious, many of his counterparts on the world stage are quite serious. In January, Vladimir Putin addressed the Russian nation in an annual State of the Union–esque speech. Alongside pledges to improve living standards by, among other things, offering free hot meals to schoolchildren, he proposed major constitutional reforms that could see the presidential office weakened and the prime ministry and State Council strengthened—measures very likely aimed at ensuring that Putin can remain in power after 2024, when constitutional term limits will force him out of the presidency.
I remember when President Bush II was reported to have said (paraphrasing?) “The Constitution is just another God-Dxxx piece of paper”. (You can read that here if you like.)
Do you remember reading about Kings who sought legitimacy for their rule by having the Pope recognize their earthly authority?
And what about The Divine Right of Kings. ?
It seems that every autocrat seeks legitimacy when they assert they are the rulers over others.
And as near as I can tell, there is a steady progression towards The Unitary Executive Theory in the US in which no other branch of government can challenge a sitting President even when the President overrides Congressional intent.
The Autocrat of the United States may be just around the corner. It might be President Donald Trump…
…or maybe Jared Kushner…