Trump Staff Changes Signal Growing Authoritarian Threat

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By Alexander Reid Ross (July 28, 2017)

The evening after the Boy Scouts of America issued a public apology for Donald Trump’s behavior, his new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, went on a profanity laced rampage against the chief of staff, Reince Priebus. Instead of disciplining Scaramuci, Trump accepted Priebus’s resignation, hiring up a general from the Southern Command to fill his place.

While Trump lectured a group of police officers on the need to assault suspects, news emerged that Scaramucci’s wife had filed for divorce.

Priebus, the former chairman of the RNC, was the main symbolic tether tying Trump to the GOP. Without that formality, the Trump Administration is little more than a syncretic configuration of cranks, esoteric fools, and military careerists.

This apparently spontaneous change at the highest levels of the government illustrates a transition away from conventional party politics and toward an authoritarian administration.

As the Trump Administration’s state security imperatives have shifted from white nationalists to antifascists, Trump’s rhetoric on immigration has grown shriller than ever. The House’s massive budget for the wall has been passed. As the most recent director of DHS, General Kelly is his flavor of the month.

One of the keys to authoritarianism is managing shifting power relations by playing underlings against one another with the ever present fear of being fired. Others include maintaining autonomous mass support through large rallies, constantly attacking opposition or independent media, inflaming ethnic or racial tensions through dehumanizing, violent rhetoric, sanctioning political and social violence through non-governmental groups, and securing impunity through the power of the official pardon.

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