So-called "constitutional conservatives" used to be terrified of federal government intrusions into local municipalities. Then came Trump, who can do no wrong in the eyes of his obedient supporters: Orange Man Good. Trump's deployment of federal agents in "Democratic" cities to enforce local laws is sadly within the power of the presidency, but probably unconstitutional. This is the logical conclusion to three and a half years of Trump pantomiming as a tinpot dictator. It's a vulgar display of power, his favorite kind. This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
There was a time, like a week or two ago, when there was a pervasive fear among right-leaning Americans that heavily armed federal agents would show up in their towns and impose their will. There was a shorthand of names to describe such tyranny. Ruby Ridge. Waco. The Bundy ranch. Early in the Obama administration, Glenn Beck was pushing innuendo about a coming "socialist, totalitarian" government herding Americans into "FEMA camps." Didn't happen, of course, but fear of an overreaching federal government was a hallmark of conservative discourse while a Democrat was in the White House. Now that a Republican president is unabashedly acting out his strongman fantasies, by sending federal agents into American cities, the jig is up. Trump supporters follow like obedient foot soldiers: Orange Man Good. Portland was just a dress rehearsal for Trump's war on cities Trump last week sent the Border Patrol (CBP) into Portland — along with other Department of Homeland Security agents (DHS) and US Marshals — ostensibly to protect federal buildings from vandalism by protesters, including some elements of Antifa. When federal agents of unknown provenance started deploying anti-riot munitions and snatching people off the streets nowhere near the protests into unmarked vans, the nation took notice. But Trump quickly demonstrated that this time he's not just playing dictator. He's tossing all constitutional considerations into the wood-chipper and like any dictator would, he's justifying it as necessary to protect the people. The president threatened to send more federal agents into cities with Democratic mayors that he says are "worse than Afghanistan." Now he's making good on that promise, sending the feds into Chicago, Kansas City, Albuquerque, with more expected to follow, to act as local crimefighters. While crime has spiked in some cities since the pandemic devastated local economies, and at times violent unrest has persisted in parts of Portland for weeks, the justification for federal intervention into Albuquerque appears to be based on one unsolved murder from November 2019, which FBI special agent in charge Jim Langenberg said is "too important for this case to go unsolved." Any murder is tragic and permanently devastating to the victim's loved ones, but if a single violent crime can be used to justify such unconstitutional overreach, then the president can truly has no bounds on his power. In addition to the aforementioned agencies, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) — the latter of Waco infamy — will be headed into American cities as part of Trump's "Operation Legend" which he says is to "help drive down violent crime." (The federal incursion into Portland is called "Operation Diligent Valor.") It doesn't matter that these cities and states have their own law enforcement agencies or that their elected representatives have plainly stated that they don't want federal boots on the ground policing their citizenry. It doesn't matter that conservatives, in theory, support states' rights and limited federal government intervention. It doesn't matter that the president continues to preside over the world's worst national coronavirus response this side of the Communist Chinese government. Trump's been at this whole "Leader of the Free World" gig for three and a half years, and he'll be damned if he's going to get voted out of office in a few months without getting the chance to unleash his toy soldiers on "Democrat" cities. And the same people who think being asked to wear a mask in a Costco is tyranny will cheer their Dear Leader's vulgar display of power. This is the Trump he always promised he'd be In some respects, the surprise isn't that Trump is unleashing his inner tinpot dictator, it's that it took this long. He's never been shy about his admiration for demonstrations of the "power of strength" at the expense of troublesome citizens questioning the legitimacy of their rulers. And it's a national shame and tragedy that the American culture of fear over the past two decades since 9/11 has allowed the executive branch to accrue as much power as is currently held by the "very stable genius" in the White House. But this is where we are. Trump, never popular as a candidate or a president, has never been so besieged by his own failures. He presides over a pandemic that is far more damaging to the country than it needed to be, an economy that continues to disintegrate as a result, and he's being crushed in the polls by a barely visible Joe Biden. What can a corrupt, incompetent thug with all the power in the world do in such a predicament? Send in the troops. It's unconstitutional, it's shameful, but it's the only card left to play for the wannabe dictator. Trump's supporters cheering on his legal-but-unconstitutional interventions can no longer be taken seriously as proponents of limited government intervention. They're the faceless crowd-fillers of a personality cult, which no dictator can operate without.
Read more: Trump always wanted his own police force. Portland is just his excuse to use it. The leftist case for free speech as a tool for justice The police rioted, and there was a lot of video We should legalize pot to fight the coronavirus SEE ALSO: People who claim to be the only 'real' Americans are the worst Americans Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How waste is dealt with on the world's largest cruise ship
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Trump thinks violence and chaos on the streets is good for his reelection, and he's not trying to hide it
President Donald Trump is actively working to incite violence and chaos in American cities, hoping he...President Donald Trump is actively working to incite violence and chaos in American cities, hoping he can carry himself to a reelection victory on a "law and order" platform. Trump on Sunday took to Twitter to decry anti-racism protesters and praise a caravan of his supporters who rode into Portland after deadly violence followed clashes between the groups. Biden has fervently condemned the recent violence while Trump expresses explicit support for one group over others, and paints all protesters as destructive anarchists. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. President Donald Trump is making no effort to hide the fact he believes that violence and chaos on the streets of American cities will boost his reelection prospects. Trump is using his Twitter account to incite violence and fuel divisions across the country, perpetuating an "us vs. them" mentality among his supporters. After deadly violence in Portland on Saturday following clashes between Trump supporters and Black Lives Matter protesters, the president took to Twitter to bash the city's mayor and decry the anti-racism protesters. "The big backlash going on in Portland cannot be unexpected after 95 days of watching and incompetent Mayor admit that he has no idea what he is doing," Trump said in a tweet. "The people of Portland won't put up with no safety any longer. The Mayor is a FOOL. Bring in the National Guard!" "The only way you will stop the violence in the high crime Democrat run cities is through strength!" Trump, who controversially sent federal agents into Portland in response to the protests earlier this summer, said in another tweet. Trump praised the large group of his supporters who drove into Portland in a caravan to confront protesters, hailing them as "GREAT PATRIOTS." The man who was shot and killed in Portland was reportedly affiliated with Patriot Prayer, a far right group. As Trump praised the caravan of his supporters who rode into Portland, the president in separate tweet characterized protesters in Washington, DC, as "Disgraceful Anarchists." The violence in Portland over the weekend came a week after the police in Kenosha, Wisconsin shot Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, seven times in the back. Some of the peaceful protests in the following days turned violent as people looted and defaced nearby businesses. Armed citizens took to the streets in response to the demonstrations, which has fatal results. Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, has been accused of opening fire during a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha and killing two people in the process. Trump on Sunday liked a tweet that spoke positively of Rittenhouse. "Kyle Rittenhouse is a good example of why I decided to vote for Trump," the tweet said. The president has given a platform to conspiracy theorists, including those who claim ongoing anti-racism demonstrations represent a "coup attempt" against Trump, and people who've threatened protesters exercising their First Amendment rights with violence. Experts on authoritarianism and fascism have warned that Trump's behavior bears unsettling parallels to autocratic leaders of both the past and present. "Trumpism is something akin to a fascist social and political movement," Jason Stanley, author of "How Fascism Works," told CNN on Sunday. "We've got militias roaming the street. We have one of our political parties turning into a cult of the leader." The president is moving ahead with a visit to Kenosha on Tuesday, despite the fact local leaders have made it clear they don't want him there. "I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing. I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division and move forward together," Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, wrote in a letter to Trump. The Kenosha shooting came just one night after a St. Louis couple who made headlines for pointing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters earlier this summer spoke at the Republican National Convention. Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the gun-toting couple, in their remarks for the GOP convention said Democrats "are not satisfied with spreading the chaos and violence into our communities" and want to "abolish the suburbs all together." Trump and his allies have repeatedly pushed the false narrative that US cities led by Democrats are consumed by crime and destruction amid nationwide protests against racism and police brutality. While there has been rioting and violence on the fringes of these demonstrations, they've primarily been peaceful and Trump's rhetoric on this is at odds with reality. Crime in the US remains historically low. The president is trying to convince white, suburban voters that they're in danger of being overrun by anarchists if he loses the election, so he's going full-steam ahead with painting former Vice President Joe Biden as weak on crime and unwilling to condemn violence. Meanwhile, Trump trails Biden in the polls. 'Rioting is not protesting' Biden has a fairly hardline record when it comes to crime, which is part of the reason he's not particularly popular with the progressive wing of the Democratic party, and he's taken to the campaign trail to forcefully decry recent incidents of violence. "Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting ... And those who do it should be prosecuted," Biden said in Pittsburgh on Monday, during a speech in which he also condemned "unwarranted police shootings." The Democratic presidential nominee also slammed the president for his "failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting as an armed militia." Biden: "Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting... it's lawlessness, plain & simple... violence will not bring change. It will only bring destruction... this POTUS long ago forfeited any moral leadership. He cannot stop the violence b/c for years he has fomented it." pic.twitter.com/6fWRemMnld — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 31, 2020 To Biden's point, the White House has openly stated that "violence and chaos" is good for Trump and his "law and order" messaging. "The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who's best on public safety and law and order," White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said during an interview on "Fox and Friends" last week. By fueling violence and disarray, Trump also distracts from his disastrous response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The US has the highest number of cases and fatalities from the virus in the world, and the outbreak has left millions unemployed. Trump is trying to divert attention away from this by perpetuating culture wars.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why thoroughbred horse semen is the world's most expensive liquid
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden says Trump deployed 'secret police' in Portland to provoke violence for campaign ads
US Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, said Tuesday that President Trump's deployment of federal...US Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, said Tuesday that President Trump's deployment of federal agents in Portland was intended "to create images of chaos for his own political gain — to air in campaign ads." Last month, Wyden told Business Insider that "what is happening in my hometown won't stop at my hometown." President Trump then announced deployments in cities such as Chicago and Albuquerque. Wyden also criticized the president for his focus on "anarchists." The real threat to Americans, Wyden argued, is posed "by the president and his enablers, who are calling peaceful protesters 'anarchists' and 'terrorists' and sending paramilitary forces into America's cities." Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. President Donald Trump sent his "secret police" to Portland in order to spur the sort of violence that he is both campaigning on and against, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said Tuesday. The Democratic senator made the comments during a Senate hearing on the federal use of force in Oregon's largest city, which included the indiscriminate use of tear gas and the use of "less-lethal" munitions that maimed protesters and journalists alike. Wyden, the son of two refugees from Nazi Germany, attacked Trump for having "heavily armed secret police snatching Portlanders off the streets," saying the president did so "to create images of chaos for his own political gain — to air in campaign ads." Last month, Wyden told Business Insider that "what is happening in my hometown won't stop at my hometown." Soon after, President Trump announced he was sending more federal agents to cities such as Albuquerque, New Mexico, where last week hundreds of people protested the deployment. At Tuesday's committee hearing, Wyden argued that the Trump administration's rhetorical focus on "leftist anarchy" served only to deflect from the far more numerous "murders and vandalism committed by far-right domestic terrorists." In a report released in June, the Center for Strategic and International Studies found that, over the past 25 years, the majority of terrorist attacks and plots "have come from the far right," as The Guardian's Jason Wilson reported. Attacks from far-left groups were negligible, according to the group, which noted that such agitation peaked in the mid-2000s. Former Vice President Joe Biden, while criticizing the Trump administration's deployment of federal agents, has also said that "Arsonists and anarchists should be prosecuted," conflating criminality with political radicalism. Such rhetoric only obscures the fact that acts of violence by anti-racist protesters are few and far between, Wyden said. "This baseless talk of leftist anarchy also erased the work being done by all those who've stood up in peaceful protests to declare that Black Lives Matter," he said. The real threat to Americans, he continued, is posed "by the president and his enablers, who are calling peaceful protesters 'anarchists' and 'terrorists' and sending paramilitary forces into America's cities." Have a news tip? Email this reporter: email@example.comJoin the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Inside London during COVID-19 lockdown
People in Albuquerque are protesting Trump's deployment of federal agents to the city as local leaders condemn the show of force
Activists in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are rallying outside the federal courthouse to protest the Trump administration's...Activists in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are rallying outside the federal courthouse to protest the Trump administration's deployment of 35 federal agents to the city. The deployment, announced July 22, is ostensibly intended to combat violent crime, but President Donald Trump has sold it in partisan terms, falsely accusing Democratic-led cities of wishing to "abolish" police. The Trump campaign is currently flooding New Mexico with ads claiming Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden would underfund law enforcement. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Protesters are gathering outside the US courthouse in downtown Albuquerque Friday night to show their opposition to the Trump administration's deployment of additional federal agents in New Mexico's largest city. The deployment of 35 agents, announced July 22 as part of what the US Department of Justice has termed "Operation LeGend," is ostensibly an effort to combat violent crime. But President Donald Trump sold the policy as necessary in Democratic-led cities, specifically, where he claimed local leaders with to "defund, defame, or abolish" police. The president's reelection campaign has also been flooding New Mexico's airwaves with an ad seeking to tie Democratic rival Joe Biden to that activist demand. The Red Nation, an indigenous-led socialist group, helped organize Friday's protest. "What we are seeing today is fascism in its most blatant and simple form," the group said in statement. New Mexico's Democratic leaders have also condemned the deployment, likening it to the show of force in Portland, Oregon, where Trump also drew ire from locals for sending federal agents to quell protests. Marg Elliston, chair of the state's Democratic Party, and Flora Lucero, chair of the Bernalillo County chapter, issued a joint statement criticizing the deployment as "out of line with the needs and interests of our communities." "Recently, we've seen how the Trump administration is willing to use federal officers to brutalize and intimidate peaceful protesters," they said. "This kind of violence and suppression has no place in our nation." In a July 28 letter to Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, US Attorney John Anderson, a Trump appointee, argued the federal contingent was necessary due to the "concerning" pace of fatal shootings in the city, KOBO reported. Anderson maintained that no one should confuse or equate Operation LeGend with the events unfolding in Portland, Oregon. But Keller remains skeptical. He joined mayors from Seattle, Philadelphia, and Oakland on a July 29 phone call expressing opposition to the Trump administration's use of force, saying federal agents have engaged in "totally inappropriate and often illegal behavior that is designed to incite violence and divide us." Have a news tip? Email this reporter: firstname.lastname@example.orgJoin the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Inside London during COVID-19 lockdown