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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/9/18

The Truth About an Untethered Trump

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Meanwhile, he's praising Trump-adoring Sinclair Broadcasting, signaling to the FCC it should approve Sinclair's pending $3.9 billion purchase of Tribune Media's TV stations.

We're entering a new and more dangerous phase of Trump's "divide and conquer" strategy, splitting the nation into warring camps -- with him as the most divisive issue.

Even Trump's tweets have become more brazenly divisive. Last week he called his predecessor "Cheatin' Obama." When was the last time you heard a president of the United States disparage another president?

He's more determined than ever to convince supporters that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is in cahoots with Democrats and the FBI to unseat him.

This might give him some protection if Trump decides to fire Mueller, or if Mueller's investigation turns up evidence that Trump collaborated with Russia to win the election, and Congress moves to impeach him.

"Try to impeach him, just try it," warned Roger Stone, Trump's former campaign adviser, last summer. "You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection like you've never seen."

But Trump's strategy might just as easily extend beyond Mueller. What happens if in 2020 a rival candidate accumulates more electoral votes, but Trump accuses him or her of cheating, and refuses to step down?

"He's now president for life," Trump recently said of Xi Jinping, adding "maybe we'll have to give that a shot someday." Some thought Trump was joking. I'm not so sure.

Democracies require leaders who understand that their primary responsibility is to protect the institutions and processes democracy depends on. The new Trump seems intent on maintaining his power, whatever it takes.

Democracies also require enough social trust that citizens regard those they disagree with as being worthy of an equal say, so they'll accept political outcomes they dislike. The new Trump is destroying that trust.

Trump untethered isn't just a more petty, vindictive, and belligerent version of his former self. He's also more willing to sacrifice American democracy to his own ends. Which makes him more dangerous than ever.

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Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

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