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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Dictator for a Day

 Philip Bump at WP:

On Wednesday, UMass Amherst released the results of a poll conducted by YouGov in which respondents were asked about the concept. The framing of the comment was stark, excluding Trump’s specific plans for using his theoretical dictatorial power. It was just, “Trump recently said that if elected, he would be a dictator only on the first day of his second term. Do you think that this is a good or bad idea for the country?”

A plurality of respondents said this was “definitely bad” with 6 in 10 saying it was “definitely” or “probably” bad. Among Republicans, though, a third said it was “definitely good” with three-quarters saying it was at least “probably” good.

Again, this isn’t “Trump wants temporary absolute powers to build a wall on the border.” It is “is it good or bad if Trump has absolute powers for a fixed time period.” And three-quarters of Republicans responded that this was probably a good idea.

This response isn’t surprising as such. It’s been obvious for years that there is a non-insignificant part of the American public, largely on the right, that is supportive of the idea of suborning democracy to absolute executive power. There is unquestionably a gap between “supporting a dictatorship in theory” or “as a way to indicate anger at the system” and “approving of an actual implementation of dictatorship.” But it seems safe to assume that the more people you have in the theoretically accepting group, the larger the literally accepting group would turn out to be.