Almost every U.S. President has endured his critics’ and political rivals’ charges of wanting to be or actually acting as a dictator.
The last three presidents, Bush43, Obama, and Trump respectively, endured having this rather baseless charge leveled against them to a far greater degree than their predecessors.
Of course, the people who are not the sitting president or in the sitting president’s inner circle can feel free to openly use such pejoratives against the president without risking a prison term, which actually speaks to the level of freedom our constitution guarantees us. This fact alone crushes the narrative that a U.S. President can act like a dictator with impunity.
European leaders, like the British Prime Minister or the German Chancellor have powers that a U.S. President can only dream of having. For example, a British Prime Minister is still responsible to parliament (unlike a U.S. President who is not responsible to congress), however, if the prime minister has a sizable and disciplined majority in the House of Commons, wields considerable power as they are secure in office in such a situation and can get legislation passed quickly with little backtalk.
A U.S. President has a great deal of checks on his power, especially and including the passing of legislative programs. The true power of the president lies in the outsized national and international attention his office receives, which provides a very effective “bully pulpit”. Perhaps it is this bully pulpit that presidents control that makes it so easy to view them as wannabe dictators?
At any rate, President Trump is hardly the first president to be unfairly likened to an aspiring dictator and he certainly will not be the last.
-The Rational Ram