OURVIEW: Joking or not: Trump on term limits is cause for concern

Each week the editorial board reflects on a current issue in Our View. The position taken does not reflect the opinions of everyone on the Hilltop Views staff. This week’s editorial board is composed of Viewpoints Editor Lauren Sanchez and writer Collin Mims

In a recent speech this past Saturday, President Donald Trump took the opportunity to praise Chinese President Xi Jinping in the move to end a presidential term limit. He added that “maybe we’ll have to give that a shot one day.”

While these comments were supposedly made in jest, they were also followed with an insistence from Trump that the democratic system is, in fact, rigged. This parallels much of what he said during the 2016 presidential election and, if anything, hints towards a lack of growth. More importantly than that, however, is the blaring, screeching panic sirens that go off in my head at the even jocular suggestion that we end term limits. While it would be nice to think this is more a result of paranoia than anything else, it’s worthwhile considering the implications of these statements, and why we need to note the red flags we see.

Presidential terms are meant to protect our democracy; having these term limits prevent possibilities of dictatorship or monarchies. These terms also protect the U.S. from abuses of power. Though we have seen our fair share of these abuses since the start of the Trump administration, limiting a president to two four year terms ultimately protects us from any possibility of our once democratically elected leaders taking advantage of us.

These terms are also at the core of democracy in America. That’s just the way democracy works in general; everyone gets an opportunity to lead the country how they see fit once they are elected into office. Doing away with presidential terms robs people of that opportunity.

Of course these comments made by Trump shouldn’t warrant any surprise considering that the Trump administration, in their actions, have shown a certain disregard for American democracy.

Our president has shown many aspects of being a dictator within the past year of his presidency. As we all know, Trump has a preoccupation with the media and discrediting those who would actively oppose him. Remember the Fake News Awards? We do.

He also uses the tactic of “othering” people in order to instil fear in American citizens. “Othering” people basically means you point at a group of people and insinuate that any differences between us and them serve as a danger to Americans. Trump also focuses on national identity, which to an extent isn’t necessarily bad. However, nationalism in itself is very dangerous and has been used by many past dictators to rally citizens to their sides. Let’s not forget that “othering” and using nationalism are both tactics used in fascism.

This is about more than blind, self-congratulatory conspiracies. Many people in today’s political climate very much feel the fear that has reared its head during the election and now into the presidency. It’s important that we remain vigilant, critical and actionable. At what point does the world around us change from what we used to know? At what point do things that seemed grotesque and unjust seem like normal occurrences to us? If we don’t pay attention and address the singular red flags that appear, it won’t be long before that’s all we can see.