The prospect of Donald Trump as President of the United States is the greatest threat to free democracy on the planet today. His consistent praise of dictators and refusal to condemn anti-democratic crackdowns should be troubling to anyone who supports the norms and institutions of American democracy. Would he curtail the freedom of the press? Would he respect constitutional limits on his power? Would he punish enemies extra-constitutionally? These are disturbing questions to ponder, but his rhetoric should place these concerns at the center of this election.
But the global impact of a potential Trump presidency is even more frightening. If Trump is elected president, the US will no longer be the leader of the free world (a role that it has played, albeit imperfectly, since WWII). Trump is open to abandoning NATO partners if they are attacked. This is essentially an invitation to further Russian aggression. The entire architecture of the postwar order is threatened by this position and this man. The possibility of massive global unrest, from land-grabbing invasions to nuclear proliferation to even a third world war, would rise precipitously with his election. His ‘America First’ approach marks a return to the dangerous approach of 1930s isolationists. There is a reason this man has widespread support from brutal dictators and neo-fascists; he would greatly strengthen the forces of authoritarianism and totalitarianism around the world.
If one believes in freedom, democracy, and human rights; if one values human security, international order, and peace through strength and unity; and if one acknowledges the responsibility of the United States to work for these aims, one must see this presidency-seeking reality TV star as an absolute menace.
Trump is not an ordinary candidate for the presidency. He is (hopefully) a once-in-a-lifetime threat to American ideals and the critical commitments we have to people around the world. Those who are committed to the global common good should be clear: we need a commander-in-chief who will not coddle dictators, invite unjust aggression, and open the door to global chaos.