Before her death in 1996, we’re led to believe, a blind old bat in Bulgaria known as Baba Vanga predicted the 44th President of the United States would be a black man – but that he would also be the last.
It’s advisable to take these things with a fairly large helping of salt, of course, not least because she also predicted Europe would be destroyed in a six-year nuclear war ending right about now, and because “many of the people who were close to her have claimed she never made some of the prophecies attributed to her on the internet.” Well there’s a big surprise.
But suppose for the sake of argument the one about Barrack Obama was an accurate prophecy – what about the other bit? Who could possibly end the presidency of the United States? And why? To what end? Well, to my mind there is only one candidate in the field who would have the character, the motivation, and the support to do such a thing, and that is Donald Trump.
I can’t help but be reminded of Mussolini when I listen to this man. Boorish, vain, bullying, protectionist, misogynist, populist, corporatist, arguably more cunning than intelligent, and contemptuous of the free press. I’m not saying he’s going to take power in a 1922-style March on Washington – if things continue to go his way he may not need to – but I don’t think he’d be entirely satisfied with the remaining constitutional limits on the presidency, either.
For one thing, whether the simultaneous legislative elections return a Republican or a Democrat Congress, the majority of this blowhard’s plans are never going to see the light of the day if required to go through the normal legislative process – many having already been condemned by House and Senate leaders on both sides, and by a Republican establishment terrified of this would-be demagogue. For all the (largely justified) talk of the ‘imperial presidency’ the office of president is, thankfully, not yet an autocratic one.
But a hypothetical Trump coup wouldn’t be the first time anyone had attempted to make it one. If you believe the testimony of Major General Smedley Butler to the House of Representatives in 1934, a group of wealthy businessmen had attempted just such a thing the previous year, intending to use 500,000 armed men marching on Washington confer upon Butler unlimited powers as ‘Secretary of General Affairs’. Indeed, it was wealthy industrialists who had paved the way for such a coup in Italy in 1922, and Mussolini began with the constitutional title of prime minister before this became too limiting and the additional, dictatorial, title of Duce of Fascism became more convenient.
Am I being entirely serious here? Well, no, my tongue is firmly in my cheek – and I’ve very deliberately avoided making any reference to you-know-who. But neither am I being entirely satirical. I don’t think Trump would be a very good president and I genuinely fear a man who seeks to curtail freedom of the press by essentially making criticism of public officials off-limits or who, like our prime minister, believes in using arbitrary power to attack law-abiding companies like Amazon (“If I become president, oh do they have problems. They’re going to have such problems”). I think people should be able to continue being able to compare him to Mussolini.
All that said, the numbers are against Emperor Trump, anyway. Tim Montgomerie noted last week 49 per cent of Americans were “terrified” of the prospect of a Trump White House, while 51 per cent were “embarrassed” he did so well in the New Hampshire primary. And, with Hillary Clinton almost certainly ending any prospect of a Sanders nomination with her South Carolina win, voters will at least have the option of a sanity candidate in November (though the ‘sanity candidate’ being a compulsive liar is somewhat jarring).
I’m still smarting over my failure to put any money on a small Tory majority back when everyone was telling me such a prediction was insane. Maybe now’s a good time for me to put some cash on Hillary coming top trumps.
Paul is Creative Director for Conservatives for Liberty. Follow him on Twitter: @Whiggery
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty