President Donald Trump is apparently jealous of North Korea head of state Kim Jong Un, specifically on how Kim is able to get his people to follow orders.
“Hey, he is the head of a country, and I mean, he is the strong head,” Trump told Fox’s Steve Doocy. “Don't let anyone think anything different.”
Trump followed up that observation with a remarkable statement.
“He speaks, and his people sit up at attention,” he said. “I want my people to do the same.”
TRUMP on Kim Jong Un (note the final two sentences): "He's the head of a country, and I mean he's the strong head. Don't let anyone think anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same." (via FOX) pic.twitter.com/ed9AMRl9ny— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 15, 2018
Doocy didn’t follow up that statement with the obvious question: What exactly does Trump mean by that?
The reason why Kim is able to get “his people” to heed his every word is because the North Korean dictator is an autocrat — if they don’t listen, if they don’t “sit up at attention” and follow the rules, they will be severely punished for it. Any attempt at dissension will result in even worse punishment, including death.
Later on, when a separate reporter asked him about it, Trump scoffed at the idea that he wanted to be like Kim.
"I'm kidding," he said. "You don't understand sarcasm."
But past statements and actions by Trump, in addition to his "joke," make it seem that’s what Trump wants. We needn’t go off of just this small statement either; time after time, we’ve seen examples of Trump trying to assert himself as a stronger president than he should be. Whether it’s limiting the press, demanding free speech be squelched, believing himself to be above the law, or having his cabinet members lavish praise onto him, Trump is acting the part of an autocrat, even if he isn’t one quite yet. How long will it be, for example, before he demands the citizenry lavish praise unto him, too?
These small encroachments need to be recognized and strongly rebuked by anyone and everyone who wishes to keep our democratic freedoms intact. If we don’t speak now when Trump makes these kinds of statements, our silence becomes a sort of silent endorsement of what he has to say — and no one should endorse this kind of autocratic thinking.