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Donald Trump: America’s Caudillo

February 3, 2019

After the collapse of Spain’s control of Latin America, countries adjacent to America’s southern border experienced political and economic revolutions. Many were led by the Venezuelan radical, Simon Bolivar. When civil order in these new democracies collapsed, order was restored by a strongman, a Caudillo. That President Donald Trump aspires to become America’s caudillo is evident in a number of actions he has taken, or proposed to take, and the lasting impression made upon him during his years as a cadet at New York Military Academy.

Due to the President’s dyslexia, his academic career was undistinguished. The greatest academic influence on him was that military academy. At Fordham University, the young Donald was compelled to leave after two years and entered the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. That program required students to count, not read, nor did Wharton require learning a foreign language, so Trump was able to graduate. The only real influence on his education were former military officers at New York Military Academy.

Though, periodically, American Presidents have tapped military officers to serve at the head of civil agencies and  departments of government, the damn burst with the election of President Donald Trump who did not serve in the U.S. military, but has demonstrated a loyalty to, and fondness for, former General and Flag Officers.

Though most of these appointments of military officers were unsuccessful, the President sees himself as a Commander in the Latin American mold of caudillo. Only that explains his threat to declare a national emergency and deploy U.S. military to construct a physical wall along our southern border.

Unfortunately, The New York Times reports that the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law has identified 123 provisions of law granting presidents a range of such powers. We will return to this topic with some suggestions of how to constrain this American caudillo, if President Trump uses his State of the Union address to announce his intention to declare a national emergency.

 

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