Donald Trump Is Not an Authoritarian

Tasos Katopodis/CNP via ZUMA

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I don’t suppose anyone is in the mood to hear this, but have you noticed that Donald Trump hasn’t seized more power during the coronavirus emergency even though it gives him a perfect excuse to do so? In fact, if anything, he’s been eager to push authority down onto the states and away from the federal government.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone. It’s an odd thing, but Trump has never been hungry for power. On the contrary, he’s afraid of power because he’s afraid of being truly responsible for anything. He much prefers to delegate and blame.

If not power, what then? Trump is driven by a desire for attention and praise—and its flip side, revenge against those who malign him. He doesn’t care one way or another who’s in charge of things. He just wants all the credit. This is why, in the end, he’s neither an autocrat nor an authoritarian. He’s just a sad little man who craves approval but has never gotten it.

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