President Trump has never minced words. To put it mildly, the leader of the free world is abrupt, uncensored and extremely controversial. His supporters all seem to relish his no-holds-barred style, even when he strays from the truth, as he so often does. However, his critics and the rest of the world think little of his divisive bombast. Yet whether people like it or not, Trump’s signature flair isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, it might be getting worse.
The president stirred controversy this week by saying that Democrats who did not applause during his State of the Union address are “un-American” and “treasonous” in front of a crowd in Cincinnati. While the White House later backtracked by claiming that the president was “joking”, the comments still did not go over well with many.
Even if Trump was just fooling around, his “joke” was far from funny. Treason can be punishable by death in the United States so joking around about it is the equivalent of joking around about murder, which Trump has, of course, also done during his brief presidency. Also, should a guy who’s being investigated for colluding with one of America’s biggest “rivals” (his words) to rig an election and undermine his own nation’s democracy really be tossing that word around so lightheartedly?
Anyone who thinks the controversy would end there clearly doesn’t know Donald Trump. A few days later, he proposed the idea of a military parade. Those who actually served in the military overwhelmingly oppose this idea, though it is doubtful that their resistance will sway the president at all. This expensive, unnecessary display of might could potentially cost millions and, just like the fabled border wall, Mexico will not be the one who ends up paying for it. That burden will almost certainly fall to the taxpayers.
By calling those who do not clap for him “treasonous” and planning a grand military parade, President Trump is inviting comparison to other world leaders. Unfortunately for him, those leaders are Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un. Those two despots have spent their political careers obliterating those who disagree with them and flexing their militaristic power. In fact, just this Thursday North Korea proudly marched their ballistic missiles down the streets of Pyongyang. It was a move that Vice President Pence decided to hypocritically denounce, apparently forgetting that he fully supports Trump’s exact same idea for the U.S.
The danger of the president’s rhetoric this week cannot be understated. These eerie statements only add to the growing list of troubling dialogue that has defined the era of Trump. He has spent years discrediting the media, concocting false conspiracies, vengefully attacking those who speak out against him, and attempting to smear the intelligence agencies in charge of keeping America safe.
These menacing, self-aggrandizing tactics are often used by authoritarians such as Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kim Jong-un, Vladimir Putin, and Rodrigo Duterte to brainwash citizens and squash opposition for years. It’s no wonder that Trump has made it a point to praise these men on the record. Apparently, they are his role models.