Author Francis Fukukyama’s prediction that President Donald Trump would try and fail to become an American version of an autocrat appears to be coming true.
“The End of History” author said in a podcast with Slate’s Yascha Mounk that a Trump-like autocrat could permanently cripple American democracy, though he noted that Trump himself probably did not have that ability.
Trump’s main problem, Fukuyama explained, is that he lacks the legitimacy that would-be dictators need when they rise to power. For one, he lost his election by 3 million votes, and has spent a year claiming that it was due to three to five million illegal voters. His approval rating was the lowest of any president when he entered office, and it’s now the lowest of any president after one year in the White House.
Fukuyama also noted that Trump blew his first big legislative attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare, and terribly botched the implementation of his travel ban.
“He’s made big strategic mistakes that a smarter future demagogue may not,” Fukuyama said. “The way he could have become Erdogan or Putin is if he had really tried to reach out to people other than the narrow base of his fanatical supporters after the election… What really creates a tyrant is popular support, where your opponents are afraid to oppose you.”
And even as Trump seals a legislative win after Republicans rushed through a potentially disastrous corporate tax cut under the guise of helping the middle class, Fukuyama’s prediction that Trump would be unable to consolidate power appears to be accurate.
For one, even his first legislative win doesn’t appear likely to improve his historically low approval numbers.
According to an NBC News poll, the Republican tax bill, despite Trump’s insistence that it will boost job growth and the middle class, is the most unpopular piece of tax legislation in decades. Just 24 percent of Americans think it’s a “good idea” and just 7 percent think it was designed to primarily benefit the middle class.
Even Trump’s base isn’t buying it. Just 28 percent of rural Americans and 29 percent of white voters without a college degree back the bill.
And while Trump loves to tout the success of the economy based on the booming stock market, his approval rating continues to plummet.
Meanwhile, he, along with his aides and family, are under an investigation by special counsel Bob Mueller, who has already gotten guilty pleas from former national security adviser Michael Flynn and campaign foreign adviser George Papadopoulos, while indicting former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates.
With the investigation into whether Russia helped Trump win the election and whether Trump obstructed justice by trying to kill the investigation, the president’s legitimacy is indefinitely in doubt.
All that is already losing his party major races. Most recently, Trump’s preferred candidate, accused serial child predator Roy Moore, lost his race in a state that hasn’t voted for a Democrat statewide in over 25 years.
It’s no surprise, then, that a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that just 36 percent of Americans say they plan to vote for Trump in 2020, with just 18 percent saying they will “definitely” support Trump’s candidacy.