Update: Jan 13, 5:51 p.m.
A Warning (see below) from Bill Moyers!
He is right - there is nothing inevitable about democracy being immune to the authoritarian impulse. Any reader of Plato's Republic knows that!
Other Brits have diagnosed the arrogance of power that corrodes democracy - Edmund Burke, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell and another political scientist of Runciman's generation Bernard Crick author of 'In Defense of Politics.'
Moyer's doesn't take into account that The Donald as POTUS will live under the restraints of our checks and balances system, something he has no experience with - yet.
And thanks to frequent elections, the restraining power of the electorate will be felt by him at some point - hopefully sooner than later. Another restraint on him will be from the political class itself when he turns on his own kind as he no doubt will.
The 40% that support Trump is not the majority - not even close to it given the whole of the electorate - including the 43% who seldom vote along with those misguided millennials and suburban women in key states like Pennsylvania who sat this one out.
By 2018 or 2020 one hopes feeling buyer's remorse these voters will have learned the lesson. At best Trump's base is @ 25% of eligible voters a highly volatile base.
But the most hopeful fact is that Donald Trump is supremely arrogant and ignorant. That combination makes him impeachment fodder already. It's just a matter of time.... tick, tick, tick... His supplicants and minions can't save him from himself...
The modern presidency has morphed into what some scholars refer to as the Plebiscitary presidency. The president has taken on a symbolic role as the embodiment of “the” public in the old Roman sense of the tribune of the people.
With 40% of the public on each side of the political divide bunkered in - elections have increasingly been not a civil dialogue but a zero sum game between the deaf on both sides, especially over abortion rights.
The role of social media and 24/7 public opinion polling has accelerated this phenomenon - the politics of the deaf. Or is this election the last gasp of a dying demographic - the Rust belt white vote who see Trump as the "great White hope?"
But it is obvious that American politics has entered a new age, a verbal civil war waged on talk show radio and social media where two irreconciliable forces face each other. The result is that polarization will continue from election to election.
The solution for progressives is not to repeat the errors of the Clinton campaign and her supporters by taking victory for granted. One must have a 50 state not just a "battle ground" state strategy.
Some will argue Donald Trump will be our first unabashed “plebiscitary” president. But this is clearly not true. He may be the most flamboyant and inflammatory example of such a president, time will tell.
But this tendency for the public and the Congress to create a cult of adulation around the presidency began with President Washington who thankfully put an end to making him “king-like” by only running for two terms.
One is still looking for the president-elect to show Washington like restraint. One saw none of it in his "press" conference on Wednesday.
Other presidents who have fit into this model have been extremely popular while seriously flawed – Andrew Jackson comes to mind. Lincoln ascended to this position more after his assassination than before since he died a martyr.
More recent presidents such as FDR and Eisenhower evoked this tribune of the people mantle without necessarily trying to milk it for all it was worth. FDR faced major opposition as did IKE but both were extremely popular with their bases.
FDR used his popularity to advance the New Deal, IKE preferring a more behind the scenes route in advocating policy and in his farewell address warned Americans about the rise of the unchecked power of the military-industrial complex.
But the concept of a Plebiscitary presidency is well within the nature of an office where the incumbent is the chief legislator, the head of state and party leader. But most presidents have realized their powers are limited to the power to persuade.
Our system of checks and balances, of limited government that disperses shared power from federal, state and local government does not give the president no matter how popular the power to rule by fiat.
But clearly given Trump’s over the top ego and his penchant for “straight but vulgar” talk will test how far he is allowed to go.