WASHINGTON — You probably are asking yourself, about now, "What are 15 signs my country is sliding into authoritarianism?"

1. The president refuses to commit to abiding by how Americans vote in the November election until he sees what happens. Check. Donald Trump in a Fox News interview would not say he will be bound by voters' wishes.

2. Soldiers in unmarked uniforms and no identifying insignia swoop in as the president's personal militia to arrest peacefully protesting pedestrians in the middle of the night, throw them into unmarked vans and streak away. Check. (Happening in Portland, Oregon, and Trump promises it will happen in other cities. Trump is of German descent but apparently never heard about the feared secret police and the Gestapo.)

3. People are denied the right to vote until they pay all costs any courts say they owe, whether or not they are allowed to dispute them. Check. Happening in Florida.

4. Data about a pandemic are hidden from the public so that the president can control who sees such information as the number of available hospital beds. Check. Trump ordered that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention no longer gets the data, hence the public can't see it.

5. The president is recognized around the world as someone who does not keep his word, acts capriciously and does not tell the truth. Check. Leaders of other democracies will no longer deal with Trump. Multiple organizations have clocked Trump at telling more than 20,000 lies or misstatements in 3 1/2 years.

6. The president courts dictators known for violating human rights. Check. Trump openly admires Russia's Vladimir Putin, North Korea's Kim Jong Un, Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and others.

7. The president seeks to divert spending on public health in favor of public monuments, such as a new FBI building. Check. Trump is fighting the most conservative Republicans as he tries to cut funding for fighting COVID-19.

8. Children are separated from parents and imprisoned without adequate medical attention or basic compassion. Check. Thousands may never see their parents again, and hundreds still languish in COVID-19-infested camps.

9. Borders are sealed, and people are not permitted in or out. Check. Even before COVID-19 struck, Trump enacted bans on people coming and going, including scientists considered vital to American research.

10. Racism and sexism are openly encouraged and fostered by the leader. Check. Trump is stressing division and racial anger as he campaigns for reelection.

11. The public display of evil symbols is enthusiastically endorsed. Check. Trump says Confederate battle flags, which were carried by traitors to the U.S., should fly when supported by white supremacists because it's free speech, although he says protesters do not have the same right to protest racism. Would he say the same about Nazi swastikas over a public building in the U.S.?

12. Enemies are punished and friends are rewarded. Check. Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen is in jail not just for doing Trump's bidding but for telling Congress and law enforcement about it. Roger Stone was convicted of felony offenses by a jury and is free because he lied to Congress and the FBI to benefit Trump.

13. Millions of people are declared non-persons. Check. Trump has ordered that more than 11 million undocumented people not be counted when congressional district lines are redrawn even if they have been in the U.S. for decades. This hurts cities or states with large immigrant populations because they won't be federally compensated fairly and such districts will get less voting representation.

14. Science is routinely denied. Check. A thousand people die every day because the lessons of science and history were ignored and months passed with no national planned response to the novel coronavirus even as Trump demanded schools be opened this fall or lose federal funding.

15. The power of the presidency is used for personal gain. Check. Foreign diplomats curry favor by enriching Trump's hotels and golf courses. Large campaign donations are given and rewarded by White House endorsement of commercial products. Trump tried to get the British Open held at his golf resort in Scotland and then fired the nonpartisan inspector general who wrote a report about it and had the report marked classified.

But you be the judge. In November.

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Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at amcfeatters@nationalpress.com.

(8) comments

John Green

1) you mean Trump does not agree with democrats destroying our 240 year old voting system so democrats can use fraudulent mail in ballots? Does not sound like authoritarianism to me.

2) the Homeland Security had "POLICE" written on their chests to arrest one person who who attacked a federal agent and destroyed federal property. Stopping Portland from burning for 60 days does not sound like authoritarianism to me.

3) What does that have to do with Trump? I'm more upset that illegals are allowed to vote.

4) Because Trump is getting wrong and manipulated corona numbers.

5) The 20,000 lies are not lies. They are Trump's opinion against your authoritarianism media's hate opinion.

6) ADMIRES??? Check: America First.

7) I'd rather Trump cut spending on education who are not educating due to corona, than defunding the police like authoritarianism democrats are.

8) Obama separated parents. They are here illegally. And Trump is upholding the LAW that was in place before he was president.

9) Every country has borders. Do you allow anyone into your house without vetting? It is illegal to allow illegals. It that authoritarianism?

10) Give an example you liar.

11) OMG! Check: Marxist Black Lives Matter is painted in front of Trump Tower.

12) Check: Cohen & Stone were innocent and set up by corrupt Obama.

13) So "undocumented" = legal voters? Stopping illegal votes is authoritarianism?

14) YOU do not listen to MANY doctors contrary to your ONE Dr. Fauci, Trump does.

15) Wow. Trump no longer runs his hotels. Let's look into the Pay to Play Clinton Foundation and Joe Biden hooking up is idiotic son.

Bobbie Carden

Wow, seriously? This is the most biased article I have seen, with no proof of anything she said! All pushing the Democratic agenda with blatant lies! The Decatur Daily isn't a real newspaper. More like a tabloid, that only publishes propaganda. So fed up with this kind of "reporting". Her opinions are nothing but lies

Marion Scott

I cannot believe this woman, Ann McFeathers, and her virulent dislike of President Trump.

Emily Springer

Decatur Daily I cannot believe you published this pushing a Democratic agenda. Will you be publishing a Republican article to push the Republican agenda so that both sides of the story can be seen? I will wait for a week. If I do not see one, I will be dropping by Decatur Daily on-line subscription.

Brinda Hill

I wish someone would track the lies of the Liberal Democratic Party and the press who follow along with their agenda.

Bobbie Carden

Emily Springer, you know they will not be doing that. They are completely biased and 100% leftist. I'll be dropping mine as well.

John Green

Decatur Daily sought out and chose Ann McFeatters to publish her hateful articles on a regular basis. So plan on dropping this weekend...

Gary Jenkins

All lies and exaggerations.

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