One of the fascinating aspects of the Donald Trump presidency has been the rise of the Trumpster phenomenon. Trumpsters are conservatives who have become steadfast and unwavering followers and supporters of Trump.
There are two distinguishing characteristics of Trumpsters: (1) their unconditional support of whatever Trump decides to do to “make America great again”; and (2) their refusal to tolerate or countenance any criticism or disagreement with Trump’s courses of action.
What drives Trumpsters is what can be called the Great Leader concept. Their mindset is that we have elected a Great Leader to be president and, therefore, to make America great again, we just have to entrust him with omnipotent powers, trust him to make the right decisions, and support him in whatever courses of action he takes.
And woe to the person who even hints at criticism or disagreement with what the Great Leader has chosen to do. Filled with immediate rage, the Trumpster will lash out against the critic with an array of nasty attacks, for example by accusing him of hating America, being unpatriotic, being a liar, and being ungrateful for what America has done for him.
What the Trumpsters hope to accomplish with these tirades is to intimidate critics of Trump into silence. In their minds, their Great Leader should be given free rein to do whatever he wants to make America great again, and they feel very strongly that criticism of or disagreement with Trump interferes with that aim.
That’s why Trumpsters are so willing to accept Trump’s exercise of dictatorial power. As far as they are concerned, once people elect a Great Leader, there is nothing wrong with his exercising dictatorial powers because he is doing so in the interests of our nation.
For example, consider Trump’s unilateral imposition of tariffs (taxes) on the American people and his arbitrary raising of such taxes whenever he wants. That’s classic dictatorial conduct, given that Congress didn’t enact a law imposing or raising such taxes.
Trumpsters love it. In their minds, the Great Leader is doing what he believes is necessary to make America great again. So what if he has to exercise dictatorial powers to do so.
Or consider Trump’s decision to use money appropriated to the Pentagon to build his wall along the border. Congress voted to give him only a certain amount, which made him and his supporters terribly angry. After all, the Great Leader should be given whatever he wants. And when Congress says no, the Great Leader should do it anyway.
That’s classic dictatorship, but that doesn’t bother the Trumpsters at all. In their minds, we just need to keep supporting our Great Leader in whatever he decides to do because he knows what’s best to make America great again.
Needless to say, this is how people throughout history have lost their liberties to Great Leaders. That’s in fact what the Constitution was intended to prevent. The Framers had no use for the Great Leader concept. Their notion was to limit severely the powers of anyone who became president.
In fact, notice that the Constitution doesn’t even provide an exception for emergencies and crises. That’s because they knew that crises and emergencies were the time-honored ways that Great Leaders acquired dictatorial powers.
Thomas Jefferson best summarized the libertarian ideal of a limited government type of system — that is, one in which the president’s powers are strictly constrained — when he wrote:
In questions of power then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution.