It is “inevitable” that Donald Trump will try to stage a coup and overthrow American democracy, a prominent US historian has claimed.
Professor Timothy Snyder, a leading academic at Yale University, said the US President was already displaying “fascistic” tendencies and could be tempted by a new political system that does not rely on elections.
Asked whether he thought Mr Trump would seek to replicate Adolf Hitler’s move to take full control of government by declaring a state of emergency, Professor Snyder told the Salon website: “I think it’s pretty much inevitable that they will try. The reason? I think that is that the conventional ways of being popular are not working out for them.
“The conventional way to be popular or to be legitimate in this country is to have some policies, to grow your popularity ratings and to win some elections. I don’t think 2018 is looking very good for the Republicans along those conventional lines.
“This means they could be seduced by the notion of getting into a new rhythm of politics, one that does not depend upon popular policies and electoral cycles."
Despite his belief that Mr Trump will take use measures to secure his position, Professor Snyder said he thought the US state was strong enough to withhold an illegitimate attempt to seize control of it.
“My gut feeling is that Trump and his administration will try and that it won’t work”, he said. “Not so much because we are so great but because we have a little bit of time to prepare. I also think that there are enough people and enough agencies of the government who have also thought about this, and would not necessarily go along.”
Professor Snyder also claimed Mr Trump was already displaying a number of “fascistic” tendencies, including telling lies, publicly naming his enemies and removing opponents from his rallies – something he said was “without exaggeration, just like the 1920s and the 1930s”.
He added: “As I see it, there are certainly elements of his approach which are fascistic. The straight-on confrontation with the truth is at the centre of the fascist worldview. The attempt to undo the Enlightenment as a way to undo institutions, that is fascism. Whether he realises it or not is a different question, but that’s what fascists did.
“They said: 'Don’t worry about the facts, don’t worry about logic, think instead in terms of mystical unities and direct connections between the mystical leader and the people.' That’s fascism. Whether we see it or not, whether we like it or not, whether we forget, that is fascism."