Is what we’re witnessing in the US a slow-motion downhill slide into a coup?
A fascinating and scary article has been doing the rounds in recent days, which suggests that Donald Trump’s ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries was an attempt to see how far he can push his power, as the first step to mounting an all-out coup.
A Google engineer named Yonatan Zunger has suggested that the way the White House has repeatedly gone around long standing conventions shows it is testing to see whether a coup is possible.
One man’s coup is another man’s “strong leadership”. But what Zunger is talking about is Mr Trump’s inner circle grabbing power in a similar way that Vladimir Putin has done in Russia, where he exercises power unchallenged by any other body.
Sure, he still has a court system and a legislative body, but they are largely irrelevant, and Mr Putin would ignore them if they ever opposed him.
Zunger’s point is that last weekend the White House and Department of Homeland Security happily ignored court orders related to the Muslim ban, and there was no real consequence to it.
If Mr Trump’s inner circle gets good at going around the conventional processes, the result is essentially coup-like: Congress and the Supreme Court can try to oppose him all it likes, but if he’s willing to just keep going around the normal processes, there is not a lot they can do.