In an interview with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, Yale history professor Timothy Snyder located some of the Donald Trump hysteria in a historical context. In particular, Snyder touched on Trump’s actions in the first three weeks of his administration, as well as what to expect moving forward.
President Trump has jumped right into the presidency these last few weeks, issuing executive orders left and right. Snyder explained, “the institutions have not thus far restrained him. He never took them seriously, acts as if they don’t exist, and clearly wishes they didn’t.”
While many Americans believed that the democratic institutions that are presently in place would rein in the president’s actions, Snyder said, “It is all about him all of [the] time, it is not about the citizens and our political traditions.” Snyder also noted that Trump doesn’t actually seem to care about the institutions of American democracy at all, and instead has treated institutions and the law “as barriers to the goal of permanent kleptocratic authoritarianism.”
Snyder is not the only intellectual to draw connections between Trump’s actions as president and authoritarian regimes. Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen published a piece outlining rules for survival while living …