Michael J. Salamon
Michael J. Salamon

Autocracy in a Democracy?

Dear Mr. President Trump:

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Take a lesson from President Richard Nixon. He fired his the Watergate Special Prosecutor, Archibald Cox, and ultimately Nixon was forced to quit the presidency or risk being impeached. Firing FBI Director James Comey is a dangerous autocratic move. When you are being investigated it is, at the least, unwise to terminate the person who runs the Department doing the investigation. Only despots act this way.

I have a similar warning for Prime Minister Netanyahu. When a news channel that has operated freely for 49 years is forced off the air with just two hours’ notice it sounds very much like Russia’s takeover of Crimea and forcing Tatar TV off the air. This is exactly what just what happened to Channel 1 News. It sounds like Latin American Dictator’s forcing newspapers to close. It sounds and feels autocratic.

I would like to believe that both of these leaders of Democratic countries are only interested in providing the very best for their constituencies. I would like to believe that they are always getting the best input from their very knowledgeable advisers. I would like to believe that they are caring and nurturing leaders.

Comey was allegedly fired for mishandling the Hillary Clinton investigation. But, the facts and the timing suggest that Comey was fired because of the Flynn connection to Russia investigation. It appears that Trump is attempting to curtail the investigation because it may be getting a bit too personal and may lead directly to his own entanglement.

In democracies we traditionally allow investigators to complete their work to get to the truth, the undeniable facts.

Netanyahu has been on a tirade against what he has called the “leftist, monopolistic media.” Closing liberal outlets just does not happen in a democracy. Having different voices defines a democratic state. It takes input and investigation from a variety of sources to get at the truth.

Recently a group of mental health professionals in the United States have suggested that Mr. Trump is suffering from a pathological form of Narcissistic Personality disorder. It is no doubt likely that most world leaders have some form of narcissism. Without that drive for attention no one would like to be in the position of leadership that results in constant focus on all that is said and done. So perhaps both Mr.’s Trump and Netanyahu have similar personality styles. (Small disclaimer — Trump’s personality is bigger. It’s huge! Ask him. He will be happy to tell you.)

The saddest aspect to these two situations, firing Comey and shuttering Channel 1, is that we did this to ourselves. By allowing our systems to be taken over by extremists on both sides of the aisle we have lost a centrist, balanced approach to democratic values. Both on the left and the right extremism garners the most attention. No one wants the job of leadership so we let those who can get headlines direct the conversation.

Mr. Trump will be in Israel in two weeks. His stop will last but one day. What he hopes to accomplish in that time is anyone’s guess. Perhaps that is all the time he needs to perform the miraculous agreement that will lead to a two state solution. Of course, it is enough time to cement the friendship he has with the Prime Minister. My personal wish is that he uses the time to see how his rise to the presidency has correlated with the explosive growth of anti-Semitism in the US. I also hope that both he and the Prime Minister will use the time to understand that the more they curb freedoms the more danger they are bringing to their countries. I hope they understand the importance of democracy and balance.

We need leaders who care for their constituents not just themselves. We need leaders who can take on the tough challenges of leadership and leave their egos at the door.

We need more honesty and integrity.

About the Author
Dr. Michael Salamon ,a fellow of the American Psychological Association, is an APA Presidential Citation Awardee for his 'transformative work in raising awareness of the prevention and treatment of childhood sexual abuse". He is the founder and director of ADC Psychological Services in New York and the author of numerous articles, several psychological tests and books including "The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures" (Urim Publications) and "Every Pot Has a Cover" (University Press of America). His newest book is called "Abuse in the Jewish Community: Religious and Communal Factors that Undermine the Apprehension of Offenders and the Treatment of Victims."
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