Teri Kanefield @Teri_Kanefield Author, lawyer (U.C. Berkeley). My threads are here: terikanefield-blog.com/ My author website is here: www.terikanefield.com/ Jul. 03, 2019 4 min read

(Thread) Trump’s parade v. Rule of Law

Trump wants a military parade:
Russia’s State TV sees the military parade as evidence that Trump wants to emulate Putin—and they're right.

1/ Yes, Trump has authoritarian instincts. But the problem is bigger than that.

Here are 2 facts that can't be wished away:
💠1: The RNC raised $105 million in the second quarter  https://politi.co/322ac0l 
💠2: Trump’s approval remains steady at 42%  https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-approval-ratings/ 

2/ Trump supporters and the GOP want Trump to emulate Putin. If that surprises you, see 👇


One way to understand U.S. politics is a clash between two kinds of authority:
💠Rule of Law
💠Charismatic Leader.
(Definitions from sociologist Max Weber.)

3/ Trump critics will have a hard time with the word ‘charismatic’ to describe Trump, but Trump fits Max Weber's model.

The American right wing wants a charismatic leader to rescue America from their “enemies.” (That would be Dems, liberals, immigrants & minority communities.)

4/ What underlies the Charismatic Leader's authority is his promise to protect his followers from his enemies. (Here's another uncomfortable fact: We are the enemies).

A lot of people in the U.S. want a Charismatic Leader.
Most of us want Rule of Law (rational-law model).

5/ Paxton explains Weber’s “charismatic leader” model:  https://libcom.org/files/Robert%20O.%20Paxton-The%20Anatomy%20of%20Fascism%20%20-Knopf%20(2004).pdf 

A strong authority (always male) by force of personality rises to the position of national chieftain who alone is capable of incarnating the group’s historical destiny.

6/ This is what Trump was getting at when he said, “I alone can fix it” and promises to Make America Great Again.  https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/07/trump-rnc-speech-alone-fix-it/492557/ 

The “Rule of Law” and “Charismatic Leader” models are mutually exclusive.
To exist, each must destroy the other.

7/ Rule of Law requires facts.
Charismatic leader requires myth.

His authority is based on a myth. "I alone . . ." The Charismatic Leader disregards rules. His word becomes the law. His followers believe his instincts are superior to the “ruling elites.”  https://libcom.org/files/Robert%20O.%20Paxton-The%20Anatomy%20of%20Fascism%20%20-Knopf%20(2004).pdf 

8/ The way to undermine the Charismatic Leader is to prove the myth false.
The way to kill Rule of Law is to undermine factuality.

A U.S. Congressman can advise the President to ignore the law and do as he pleases because he prefers a charismatic leader.

9/ This is also how a MAGA person can says something like this with a straight face👇


To create a Charismatic Leader model, the Leader needs to undermine facts and law—which is why arguing with a MAGA person or trying to persuade them will not work.

10/ Max Weber points out that both types (rational-law / charismatic leader) have shortcomings.

Charismatic leader's authority is fragile: If the myth that props him up is shattered, the leader loses support. (It's okay if he lies. It's not okay if the myth is shattered.)

11/ The shortcoming of Rule of Law is that creates a bureaucracy. This is what the right wing calls the Deep State. They hate it because they understand bureaucracy is the enemy of the Charismatic Leader.

Trump’s parade is a visual display of the Charismatic Leadership model.

12/ This brings us to the question: How can Rule of Law triumph over Cult of Leadership?

I expect to annoy a lot of people when I tell you one thing that won't work: Punishment.

The idea is this: People who break laws need to be punished. If we don’t, rule of law means nothing.

13/ There's an outcry to use the criminal justice system to fight Trump's leadership cult.

The problem is that these law breakers are elected leaders, Cabinet members, the president’s advisors, etc.

For a general discussion on punishment, see:

14/ The lawbreaking must be stopped, but I don't think the criminal justice system can fix a political problem.

About 1/3 of the population has authoritarian instincts & will never feel comfortable in a liberal democracy. See psychologist @karen_stenner  https://www.karenstenner.com 

15/ By liberal democracy I mean the government formed with Rule of Law👇

So what do we do with those who we might call authoritarians who will never feel comfortable in a liberal democracy?

Punishing them will not change them—and obviously we can’t jail 1/3 of the population.

16/ @TimothyDSnyder explains that in the past, the ones who didn't want to live under Rule of Law went west to the frontier, where there they could do as they pleased and create myth.

In Europe, during the period of empire, they went to the colonies.

17/ Snyder says that our current crisis —liberal democracy in trouble worldwide— resulted from the fact that we ran out of place for them to go.

Seems that what happened is that they had no place to go, so they formed the Tea Party and grabbed power.

So here we are.

18/ One idea underlying liberal democracy is the "social contract," which forms rule of law.
The way to save the Constitution is for an overwhelming majority of people to reaffirm the social contract.

Fortunately . . .

19/ . . . we know how to do it.

Susan B. Anthony, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Thurgood Marshall and others taught how.

We just have to follow their footsteps and borrow their game plans.

End/

OK, I'll admit it. I really like being told I'm right. Thank you, @raortman


I just realized that I dumped you all into Tweet #5 of my thread on punishment . . .

Here's a better link. 👇

I think my point will make better sense after musing about the uses and limits of punishment.

All of my threads are blog posts. You can read this one here:  https://terikanefield-blog.com/trumps-parade-v-rule-of-law/ 


You can follow @Teri_Kanefield.



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