By Neva Simon, age 16
Donald Trump has repeatedly taken advantage of the American government to fit the agenda and desires of his administration, like his preference to protect the economy more than people during the COVID-19 crisis. But recently, he has begun taking out his political tantrums directly on the American people. Trump and his Washington executives have ordered federal officers to go to Portland, Oregon, to protect federal property against ongoing protests fighting for racial justice. However, the officers have overstepped these boundaries by driving around in unmarked vans and grabbing protesters off the street.
Many government officials have defended these actions, citing Title 40 of U.S. Code 1315, which gives the Department of Homeland Security the right to gather agents from all different agencies to assist the Federal Protective Service in protecting federal property, like the Portland courthouse. The agents can be armed, arrest anybody without a warrant, and conduct investigations on citizens.
The Department of Homeland Security is so powerful, and the American government is so compliant with it, that they can practically use any federal law to justify almost anything they are tasked with doing, including snatching civilians from the streets with no identification in unidentified vehicles.
These kidnappings could be proof that the United States no longer has a true democratic government and is shifting into what could be called an authoritarian regime. Democracies are built on equality and freedom, and the people of the nation are the ones held in priority. However, it is clear that under the Trump administration, the lines between freedom and captivity have been blurred for the American public. Trump has tapped into and exploited a group of authoritarian, illiberal and antidemocratic civilians that have stayed under the radar of popular media for years. With the rise of such a radically open and unapologetic dictator in the 2016 election, all these people found their excuse to be more open about their prejudices, and blatantly practice their injustice throughout the country.
Authoritarian regimes have a history of oppression—and blatant murder of some of their people. For example, the Third Reich regime of Nazi Germany is very well known, and it is a terrifying fact that many of the tactics used by Adolf Hitler are the same tactics that are currently being used by Donald Trump. Adolf Hitler regularly blamed the flaws of Nazi Germany on the Jewish community, blaming the ruined economy on the financial success of Jewish people in Germany. Similarly, Donald Trump has repeatedly blamed Mexican immigrants for any and every problem in the United States. In a campaign announcement, Trump said, “When Mexico sends its people, they are not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime.”
The rise of nationalism and the lack of accountability of the Trump administration are worrying, to say the least. The more authoritarian we become, the harder it will be to live in the United States as a part of any marginalized group, due to an increasing number of people who once kept their opinions quiet becoming more radicalized by the president. The president can do pretty much anything and call on federal law to back it up.
Authoritarian: Favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority, especially that of the government, at the expense of personal freedom
Accountability: The fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility