Trump Hearts Autocrats

For example, Turkey's Erdogan.

Just another reminder of Trump’s admiration of autocrats that was buried in some much other news out of his trip to Europe via CBS News:  Trump fist-bumped Turkish leader Erdogan, said he “does things the right way”.

“Trump was very frustrated; he wasn’t getting commitments from other leaders to spend more. Many of them said, ‘Well, we have to ask our parliaments. We have a process; we can’t just tell you we’re going to spend more, we have a legal process.’ Trump turns around to the Turkish president, Recep Erdogan, and says, ‘Except for Erdogan over here. He does things the right way,’ and then actually fist-bumps the Turkish president.”

It was a startling gesture of support for the increasingly authoritarian Turkish leader, who recently won another term and is widely expected to continue consolidating his power.

After all, who needs parliamentary approval for pesky things like budgets? Plus, one of the things that Erdogan gets done is human rights abuses and deepening his on authoritarian rule.  But hey, who cares, right?

And lest one thinks this is just about NATO expenditures, Trump has continually been nothing but complementary of Erdogan and his movement of Turkey in a more authoritarian direction.

From April 2017, Trump Congratulates Erdogan on Turkey Vote Cementing His Rule.

President Trump called President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on Monday to congratulate him on winning a much-disputed referendum that will cement his autocratic rule over the country and, in the view of many experts, erode Turkey’s democratic institutions.

He also congratulated him on his recent win for an additional five year terms in office.

Note Trump’s affinity for Kim, Duterte, and Erdogan and his public contempt for Trudeau, Merkel, May, and others.

FILED UNDER: Europe, US Politics, World Politics, , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Democracy is for pv$$ies.

  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    Autocracy is easy – for the autocrat. Democracy is hard. Our ADHD president is not capable of doing hard things and is instinctively drawn to what is easy: barking out orders. The difference being that Trump is despised by half the population, we have institutions of sorts, and Trump’s too incompetent to assemble a ruling clique he can rely on.

  3. @Michael Reynolds: Yup.

    Trump’s laziness and incompetence are our main saving graces at the moment.

  4. CSK says:

    Trump, being a weakling bully who truckles to authentic bullies, is naturally drawn to Kim, Putin, Erdogan, and Duterte. He admires them; he wants to be them, but he lacks the essential toughness, which is probably fortunate for us.

  5. MBunge says:
  6. @MBunge: You really can’t stay away from my posts, can you? 😉

  7. BTW: Turkey remains in NATO. And Germany has a rather large Turkish population.

    I am not saying that Turkey should be a pariah state. I am saying that Erdogan’s autocratic behavior should not be praised.

  8. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    One of the issues that came about during the Cold War was that we too often embraced autocratic strong men because the were on “our side.” Realpolitik.

    Some of us more so than others. Blowback can have a long half-life. Though, this more of an echo.

  9. @de stijl: The remarkable thing, however, about Trump is that neither Kim nor Putin are “on our side.”

    Erdogan is another matter, of course, and complicated.

    And while the Philippines are an ally, there is no reason or need to embrace Duterte’s brutality.

  10. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    What started as realpolitik became envy with a touch of admiration. Then, during Obama’s terms, the right became enamored of strong men who thwarted him – anyone who made Obama’s foreign policy difficult became an ally.

    When they regained the Presidency (and other levers of power) they continued to embrace authoritarians that are anti-Leftist.

    (Duterte will come to a bad end. He is provocatively anti-God in a very Catholic country. Muslim Filipinos also cannot be happy.)

    You could have easily included Viktor Orban and Andrzej Duda.

    Trump envies the freedom of movement and power that these men have. Trump has that reaction and a affinity towards all strong men by all evidence.

    The American Right inherently approves of rightist strongmen, and are rapidly becoming fond of anyone that Trump fist bumps because of transference.

  11. de stijl says:

    We no longer do a Pinochet, or Videla, or Shah Reza Phalavi, or Guatemala. We no longer actively create and install new strongmen; but some of us still enable those who emerge organically to this day.

  12. @de stijl:

    Trump envies the freedom of movement and power that these men have. Trump has that reaction and a affinity towards all strong men by all evidence.

    This is the case, yes.