For Strongmen like Trump, Holding Office is a Means of Committing Crimes with Impunity
Getting away with crime and becoming untouchable is the essence of authoritarianism
“They want to silence me because I will never let them silence you. And I am the only one that can save this nation because you know they’re not coming after me, they’re coming after you. And I just happened to be standing in their way. And I will never be moving.”
And so, another chapter opens of former president Donald Trump's version of the authoritarian playbook. The remarks he made to supporters at his Bedminster, N.J. golf club after his post-indictment arraignment in Miami on June 13 may have seemed spontaneous. Yet they are carefully calibrated. They continue the propaganda points and emotional manipulation that have allowed his leader cult and his bonds with his followers to endure more than two years after leaving office.
Yet Trump is in the middle of the strongman's worst nightmare —an indictment that could lead to a conviction and jail sentence— and his rhetoric has accordingly escalated. Everything he is doing and saying right now has one goal: getting him back into the White House so that he can realize the strongman's dream of committing crimes with impunity and neutralize anyone and anything that can harm him.
The purpose of holding office, for strongmen like Trump, is not governance, but having the power to get away with crime.