- President Donald Trump has many “authoritarian leanings,” but the structure of America’s political system ultimately restrains him from being a full-blown authoritarian leader, Ian Bremmer tells INSIDER.
- Compared to “Chinese, Russian, or even Turkish presidents,” Bremmer said American presidents have “vastly less power to govern.”
President Donald Trump has many “authoritarian leanings,” but the structure of America’s political system ultimately restrains him from being a full-blown authoritarian leader, a top foreign policy expert says.
“Trump has authoritarian leanings, inclinations, and impulses. He’s the first modern president that truly doesn’t think liberal democratic institutions bring value,” Ian Bremmer, founder and director of Eurasia Group, told INSIDER. “But he’s obviously not an authoritarian leader, because the US political system doesn’t allow for it.”
Compared to “Chinese, Russian, or even Turkish presidents,” Bremmer said American presidents have “vastly less power to govern.”
Trump has often claimed there’s a “deep state,” or a nefarious group of influential members of the government and military, conspiring against him.
Bremmer said the so-called “deep state” doesn’t exist, but there is “a very deep bureaucracy and it’s hard to move.” Beyond that, the US has also a “polarised and open media” as well as the “rule of law and an independent judiciary” as checks on the president’s power, Bremmer said.
“And now you have a divided US government-probably the antithesis of authoritarianism-a government where almost nothing gets done. As Trump would say, #sad,” Bremmer added, alluding to the Democrats regaining a majority in the House in the 2018 midterms.
Earlier this week, Sen. Bernie Sanders said the “simple truth” is that Trump is an “authoritarian leader” who does not care about democracy. The comment came amid heightened attacks against the media from Trump, as well as baseless claims of voter fraud regarding the ongoing election drama in Florida.
The White House slammed Sanders in response, telling INSIDER the Vermont senator’s comments were “ridiculous” and “grossly insulting.”
But based on Bremmer’s analysis, there is a more than a grain of truth to Sanders’ assertion, but the senator perhaps could’ve been more nuanced in his assessment of the president.
In short, Trump might wish he had the same level of authority as the Vladimir Putins and Xi Jinpings of the world, but the idiosyncrasies of the US political system prevent him from fully emulating such leaders.