On Point On Point

Support the news

Guarding Against Authoritarianism46:00

This article is more than 3 years old.

In our 100-Day Spotlight on the Trump Administration: in a time of fast, dramatic action, how do we assure that we don’t lose democratic oversight?

Small business leaders applaud President Donald Trump after he signed an executive order in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
Small business leaders applaud President Donald Trump after he signed an executive order in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Donald Trump promised change, and he’s acting on that as president. Of course, there’s more to American democracy than action. Our constitution famously lays out checks and balances, restraints on every branch of government – the President included. How will those work in the Trump era?  Questions are already being raised. The president admires strong authoritarians abroad. What will we now have at home? This hour in our On Point 100-Day Spotlight,  democratic oversight and the presidency of Donald Trump. — Tom Ashbrook


Daron Acemoglu, professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Co-author, with James Robinson, of "Why Nations Fail."(@DrDaronAcemoglu)

Masha Gessen, journalist and author. Writer-in-residence at Oberlin College. Author of "The Brothers," "The Man Without A Face" and "Words Will Break Cement." (@mashagessen)

From Tom’s Reading List

Foreign Policy:We Are The Last Defense Against Trump -- "Trump appears to share several political goals and strategies with Chavez, Putin, and Erdogan. Like them, he seems to have little respect for the rule of law or the independence of state institutions, which he has tended to treat as impediments to his ability to exercise power. Like them, he has a blurred vision of national and personal interests. Like them, he has little patience with criticism and a long-established strategy of rewarding loyalty, which can be seen in his high-level appointments to date. This is all topped by an unwavering belief in his abilities.

New York Review of Books: Autocracy: Rules for Survival -- " Trump is anything but a regular politician and this has been anything but a regular election. Trump will be only the fourth candidate in history and the second in more than a century to win the presidency after losing the popular vote. He is also probably the first candidate in history to win the presidency despite having been shown repeatedly by the national media to be a chronic liar, sexual predator, serial tax-avoider, and race-baiter who has attracted the likes of the Ku Klux Klan. Most important, Trump is the first candidate in memory who ran not for president but for autocrat—and won."

The Atlantic: How To Build An Autocracy — "People crack jokes about Trump’s National Security Agency listening in on them. They cannot deeply mean it; after all, there’s no less sexting in America today than four years ago. Still, with all the hacks and leaks happening these days—particularly to the politically outspoken—it’s just common sense to be careful what you say in an email or on the phone. When has politics not been a dirty business? When have the rich and powerful not mostly gotten their way? The smart thing to do is tune out the political yammer, mind your own business, enjoy a relatively prosperous time, and leave the questions to the troublemakers."

A Selection Of Your Calls From This Broadcast

This program aired on January 31, 2017.

Support the news