The Washington Post, November 30, 2017

Many have sought to diagnose President Trump’s mental health from afar, depicting him as delusionalnarcissistic or a madman. Such an approach is understandable, since many of us struggle to make sense of his destructive behavior and attachment to falsehoods that are often of his own making. Yet it’s the history of authoritarianism that provides the best framework for understanding Trump’s words and actions. From Benito Mussolini onward, strongmen have ruled through a combination of seduction and threat, building up protective cults of personality and relentlessly pushing their own versions of reality until they’re in a position to make them state policy.

Far from being lunatics, leaders such as Trump are opportunists and skilled manipulators who may change their ideas on specific policy issues without ever deviating from their main goal: the accumulation and steady expansion of their own power. The one-party state may be mostly a thing of the past, but the authoritarian playbook — and the ways we respond to it — has proved surprisingly durable.

Read the entire essay at The Washington Post