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Trump’s Disturbing Obsession with Violence and Its Influence on Republicans

Donald Trump

Donald Trump has exhibited a disturbing fixation on violence throughout his political career and even before. Famously, during his 2016 campaign, he claimed he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue without losing supporters, and in 2020, he suggested that Black Lives Matter protesters should be shot.

Accounts from his aides reveal his frequent requests for violent actions, such as installing spikes at the border and demanding military crackdowns on protesters. Former Attorney General Bill Barr noted that Trump often suggested executing government staff who leaked information, though Barr downplayed the seriousness of these requests.

Trump’s aggressive tendencies were evident even before his political career. In the 1980s, he vocally demanded the death penalty for five wrongly convicted men and continued to support this even after their exoneration.

He also praised the Chinese government’s brutal crackdown on Tiananmen Square protesters and criticized the Soviet Union for not being harsh enough. These examples highlight a longstanding pattern of endorsing extreme measures and violence against perceived adversaries.

During his presidency, Trump authorized the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, an action many saw as a distraction from his impeachment trial. His incitement of the January 6, 2021, insurrection further underscored his willingness to resort to violence, though it was ultimately thwarted by law enforcement.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Recently, the Supreme Court’s decision seemingly granted presidents greater latitude in using force, a move supported by Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, who praised Trump as trustworthy despite his history.

Johnson’s statements dismiss concerns about presidential overreach as exaggerated, yet his own joy in discussing these expanded powers suggests otherwise.

The insistence that no president would engage in criminal activity belies Trump’s record, which includes numerous felony convictions and civil liabilities for sexual assault and fraud. Johnson’s attitude reveals a deeper enthusiasm among some Republicans for Trump’s authoritarian tendencies.

The notion that Republicans support Trump out of fear is challenged by the evident excitement among GOP leaders like Johnson over Trump’s expanded powers.

Figures like Senator Mitt Romney argue that fear of violence or career loss keeps Republicans silent, but the jubilant reactions to Trump’s new authority suggest genuine approval rather than mere intimidation. This enthusiasm points to a broader desire within the party for a leader willing to break norms and laws.

Republicans’ alignment with Trump’s authoritarian ambitions is less about personal loyalty to Trump and more about a shared vision of expanded executive power. Trump’s rise has provided an opportunity to fulfill long-held aspirations for a more dictatorial leadership style within the GOP. The Supreme Court’s decision reflects this, as does the party’s history of advocating for increased presidential authority.

Historically, Republicans have sought to consolidate power in the executive branch, a trend that dates back to at least the Reagan administration.

The unitary executive theory, which justifies broad presidential powers, was notably used during George W. Bush’s presidency to defend controversial actions such as torture and the Iraq invasion. Trump’s blatant disregard for legal constraints has pushed this agenda further than ever before.

Despite the dangers Trump poses, including to those within his own party, many Republicans remain unfazed. The belief that they can control Trump while benefiting from his leadership persists, even as past incidents, such as the January 6 riot, demonstrate the risks.

The willingness to embrace Trump’s authoritarianism reflects a broader acceptance and desire for dictatorial power within the GOP, highlighting a significant and troubling shift in American politics.

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