Leader as Follower as Bloodthirsty Authoritarian
From Day One of his mock-political career, Donald Trump has been a classic and self-evident example of the unprincipled sycophant who pretends to be strong by parroting in an authoritative voice whatever he perceives to be the feelings or preferences of the people whose love and admiration he so weakly and desperately craves. In other words, the danger of Trump, like all of his type, is that there is literally no abyss down which he will refuse to dive in search of mass support and affection. Thus, as the fear of losing his mass’s love grows in his soul, the desperate dives become increasingly unhinged, in proportion with the fear-driven fury he finds in “his people.” So it is that today Donald Trump is screaming for executions.
“Make America Saudi Arabia” https://t.co/KUgNtdRe7m
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) November 16, 2022
“A drug dealer, during his or her life on average, will kill five hundred people with the drugs they sell, not to mention the destruction of families. What we’re going to be asking, everyone who sells drugs, gets caught selling drugs, to receive the death penalty for their heinous acts.”
Trump’s crowd responds to this with shouts of approval, indicating the level of raw and uncontrolled anger currently driving the populist idiocy that is the Trump cult — and thereby driving Trump himself as their shameless slave. They want blood. They want someone to die. They want the twisted sense of justice that consists in baring one’s teeth and shouting, “Kill him!”
Does Trump know that with this proclamation he has effectively just called for the execution of former House Speaker John Boehner, who has made himself the chief Washington lobbyist for (and profiteer of) legalized recreational drugs? Does Trump even understand that by speaking of drug dealers as people who “kill five hundred people,” he has equated the indirect effects of irresponsible people’s voluntary abuse of dangerous substances with mass murder — which is what is implied by calling for the death penalty for such “killings”?
Does Trump know — these are all rhetorical questions, of course, since if there is anything we all know about Trump, it is that he knows nothing — that the argument he is making here for expanding the application of the death penalty, i.e., for broadening the state’s authority to kill a citizen in peace time, could be used to justify state executions in a theoretically infinite number of analogous contexts, depending on who happens to be legislating that year?
“A gun dealer, during his or her life on average, will kill five hundred people with the guns they sell, not to mention the destruction of families. What we’re going to be asking, everyone who sells guns, gets caught selling guns, to receive the death penalty for their heinous acts.”
“A corporate polluter, during his or her life on average, will kill five hundred people with the environmental damage they cause, not to mention the dislocation of families. What we’re going to be asking, everyone who produces excess carbon emissions, gets caught polluting, to receive the death penalty for their heinous acts.”
“A public promoter of racist, homophobic, and transphobic ideas, during his or her life on average, will kill five hundred people with the violent hatred and social ostracism they cause, not to mention the destruction of families. What we’re going to be asking, everyone who promotes racism, homophobia, and transphobia in a public forum, gets caught promoting these ideas, to receive the death penalty for their heinous acts.”
“A capitalist exploiter, during his or her life on average, will kill five hundred people with the wealth and resources they hoard and the workers they exploit, not to mention the destitution of families. What we’re going to be asking, every capitalist exploiter who gets caught impoverishing the proletariat and controlling the means of production, to receive the death penalty for their heinous acts.”
You see, there is plenty of irrational hatred and vengeful excess to go around. Every tribe has its innate desire to annihilate some individuals, or some class of people, whom it identifies with an opposing tribe. Every tribe, or its sycophantic demagogue, is prepared to stretch the bounds of causal reasoning to interpret private human failure or the vicissitudes of life as the direct effects of someone else’s behavior, words, or thoughts.
Are drug dealers bad humans? Yes — and that most certainly includes the suit-and-tie Washington lobbyists for respectable profiteering on human misery and irrationality, such as John Boehner. Are they mass murderers who ought to be rounded up and executed en masse for their immoral profiteering? Well, that’s a different question. As long as they are not sneaking drugs into other products without public knowledge — in other words, as long as they are not hiding what they are selling — the people who avail themselves of the death these bad men are selling must at least bear a significant proportion of the responsibility for the harm they incur, or cause, due to the effects of drugs they should have known better than to abuse.
Furthermore, to those inclined to tell themselves, “Oh, Trump didn’t mean the death penalty for people selling soft, legalized recreational drugs like marijuana, such as John Boehner,” I reply, “But that’s precisely my point. Where does one draw the line with this power once granted, other than wherever current social trends wish to draw it? Is it sensible to propose capital punishment for a crime that is so manifestly malleable in its parameters? Does this not create the very problem I have outlined with my analogous cases, above, namely widening the scope of the death penalty to the status of a virtually arbitrary state power to eliminate anyone deemed, at any time, by the vanguard of that moment, to have done something which that vanguard finds disagreeable, even if it was not deemed so yesterday, or may not be deemed so tomorrow? Should the state have such carte blanche power of life and death over its citizenry, to be applied according to whichever tribe happens to have the most votes, or to be shouting the loudest, at this or that moment?”