by Kristina Vakhman
Glimpses inside of President Donald Trump’s residences in New York and Florida say a lot about his tastes. Baroque furnishings and decor, all adorned with gold ornamentations, showcase a sort of “monarchical” preference. One feels as though they’re peering at the internal construction of an eighteenth century palace. The homes are fit for a king.
Consequently, these rich displays give off an impression of a narcissistic character. However, there is more to the embellishments than simply defining the president’s supposed arrogance. They present the hypothetical scenario of Trump viewing himself as an actual monarch rather than a democratic leader of a constitutional republic.
There is evidence. For one thing, Trump sees no conflict with interlacing his private business affairs with his duties as president. Like a king abdicating his throne to the prince, Trump has relinquished his empire to his sons, yet maintains a voice in its dealings. More royally, he has given his children and family members titles of political advisors; they attend meetings with foreign leaders in whose countries Trump has business ties. His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was recently cleared to be his senior political advisor, despite the anti-nepotism statute barring him from this civilian position.
Additionally, Trump’s cabinet appointments have been based more on wealth than experience. Much like the aristocrats whom kings would surround themselves with, Trump’s nominees all have receipts for the exuberant amounts of money they’ve either donated to his foundation or to the Republican party.
For example, his pick for the Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, is a businesswoman whose family has contributed approximately $20 million to the right-wing and whose knowledge of public education is null. She and the rest of Trump’s choices represent the top tier of social class.
There is also the issue of Trump’s admiration for authoritarian rulers like Russian president Vladimir Putin. He has gone so far as to openly praise the leader while criticizing the effectiveness of former president Barrack Obama. He has no regard for Russia’s interference with the 2016 election or Putin’s crimes, instead viewing their potential friendship as an “asset.”
There are similarities to monarchs of greater alarm. History has shown authoritarian regimes undermining the integrity of the media and facts. Trump and his spokespeople incessantly attack the “dishonest media,” ignore intelligence reports and scientific evidence supporting the existence of grave issues like global warming and invent “information” that promotes their agenda. The mention of “alternative facts” made by the counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway, is one famous example.
Monarchs swept unethical behavior under the rug to purify their divinity; Trump does the same, as shown by his suspicious refusal to release his tax returns. Authoritarians created scapegoats to draw away from their own faults; Trump has targeted immigrants and foreigners as the causes for most, if not all, of the United States’ problems. Kings crushed verbal or physical opposition; Trump has threatened to cut federal funds to a college because of its peaceful-turned-violent protest against his views, a move that, if it was legal, would destroy financial aid for thousands of students.
Trump is also following the steps of monarchs in terms of issuing executive orders. Within two weeks, he has already signed more than Obama did in his first few days in office. Should he continue at a rapid rate, he could reach the ranks of Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II who put forth an average of 690 royal decrees a day.
The United States broke away from England to avoid monarchical rule. Trump’s lack of respect for democratic institutions and regulations could lead the country back to living under the reign of a king.