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Financial Times Letters

Daniel Aronoff

Financial times

FT

Daniel j aronoff

landon companies

Trump's progress raises concerns over a populsit tyranny/FT3-2-2016

Letter

March 2, 2016 11:57 pm

Trump’s progress raises concerns over a populist tyranny

From: Daniel J. Aronoff

Sir,

Martin Wolf has written the best commentary on Donald Trump that I have seen (March 3). Mr Trump’s populism is not a novel element in US politics — Huey Long and Joe McCarthy rode menacing populist waves, and Long may have become president if he had lived — but Mr Wolf rightly fears that Mr Trump is dangerously close to capturing the seat of power.

The type of tyranny the US founding fathers most feared — especially James Madison — was the tyranny of the majority; which is democracy perverted into a winner-takes-all game(like Iraq became after the US implemented democracy there). When Mr Trump talks about creating libel laws to protect himself and possibly moving to eject a judge he claims does not like him, he displays a mentality that views the Bill of Rights and the separation of powers as an inconvenience to be swept aside by a president riding high on a wave of populist enthusiasm.

The late Justice Scalia once noted that many countries have constitutional protections equivalent to the US Bill of Rights, but only those countries that maintain a separation of governmental powers actually enforce its provisions. Mr. Scalia and the founding fathers understood that structural impediments to absolute power are the foundation of liberty.

The only point on which I part company with Mr Wolf is where he describes the moneyed elites of the Republican party as carrying out a divisive manipulation of its rank and file; deliberately stoking hatred to cajole them into supporting their interests . This is too condescending a view of the average person and it ignores the GOP’s valid recognition of the nexus between free enterprise and limited government in promoting prosperity and ensuring freedom. While there have been racist and jingoist elements in the Republican Party that date back at least to Richard Nixon’s appeal to southern whites - which form Mr. Trump’s base of support – many prominent GOP leaders of recent times have no truck with them. No one can claim that Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp or their most faithful current heir, Paul Ryan, have ever displayed so much as a scintilla of hatred toward any citizens of theirs, or any other country. In jettisoning the libertarian and socially inclusive elements of his party, Mr. Trump has drawn into the open the latent conflict that has simmered within the GOP for over a generation.

Daniel J Aronoff

President

The Landon Companies

Birmingham, MI, US

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