While McArdle appears to be upset that The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik states Trump will be a dictator and the country won't recover, the political is always personal with her.
Now for the embrace. One by one, people who had not merely resisted him before but called him by his proper name—who, until a month ago, were determined to oppose a man they rightly described as a con artist and a pathological liar—are suddenly getting on board. Columnists and magazines that a month ago were saying #NeverTrump are now vibrating with the frisson of his audacity, fawning over him or at least thrilling to his rising poll numbers and telling one another, “We can control him.’
No, you can’t. One can argue about whether to call him a fascist or an authoritarian populist or a grotesque joke made in a nightmare shared between Philip K. Dick and Tom Wolfe, but under any label Trump is a declared enemy of the liberal constitutional order of the United States—the order that has made it, in fact, the great and plural country that it already is.McArdle enthusiastically supported the #NeverTrump "movement." Gopnik insulted her and them. He pointed out they were powerless fools, without principles or spine. For that...he must die!!
McArdle's evidence that the US could never be taken over and permanently damaged by a dictatorship in modern times:
1. Nobody knows anything, so there's no way to tell whether or not countries recover from dictatorships.
Moreover, the “modern times” restriction makes it hard to generalize, simply because there just aren’t that many modern democracies around, or enough years of history to study from them.2. You cannot prove a man will be a dictator; you can only find out after he dictators over everything.
And that assumes that Trump, having taken power, would turn into a Peron or a Lenin, and not, say, just a bad president. Leave aside for now the argument over whether he has genuinely scary-dictator instincts (I see worrying signs that he does, but this is unprovable until he tries to do scary-dictator things rather than just bray about them).3. Just because armed men backed by the biggest, most deadly military in the world take over a country doesn't mean people will obey the folks threatening to kill them. McArdle knows this because FDR tried to become a dictator and he was stopped.
There are two stages to becoming a scary autocrat. First, you have to get into a position to seize power. The most traditional routes are the military (a task for which Donald Trump’s bone spurs left him tragically disqualified), or winning elected office to abolish or corrupt the electoral process. The former route has its risks, but once you’ve safely arrived in the presidential palace, it’s pretty easy to dispense with democracy, since you have all the guns. The latter route means you need the rest of government, including all the folks with guns, to go along with you.
This certainly does happen, even in countries that have been practicing democracies for a while. But it’s by no means a given. Franklin D. Roosevelt took a certain amount of constitutional liberty with his wackier notions, and when the courts pushed back, he hit on the scary idea of basically throwing out some Supreme Court justices and replacing them with others who would rubber-stamp his policies. (The phrasing was nicer than that, but this was the basic idea, and just the sort of first step that dictators like to take toward cementing themselves as Autocrat for Life). FDR’s own party rebelled, but the Supreme Court began cooperating, too.4. Dictator FDR was unsuccessful in part because the FBI would never tap a phone on the president's order, or to gain power, or protect itself from a dictator's revenge, or protect their jobs....
There’s clearly a portion of the electorate that thrills to the more authoritarian and violent parts of his message, and presumably some of those folks are in the military and the civil service. But I’m still fairly confident that the FBI is not, say, going to start tapping journalists’ phones to find out if they’re making fun of President Trump’s comb-over, or disappearing the ones who do.5. America's institutions are too strong to let a dictator take over the US.
All-out dictatorship is pretty low on the list, because American institutions do not seem weak enough to allow it.No doubt the Republican Party will stop Trump if he tries to run for office. They're a long-standing, powerful American institution.
Oh, wait. They accepted him as their party's nominee and are backing his run, because Hiltery will be worse.
Sucks to be you, Republicans.