Donald Trump is running for president of the United States for a third time, and there are many people, Republicans and Democrats alike, who are not thrilled about that fact. Many average Americans see Trump as a threat to American democratic institutions after his actions – and lack thereof – on January 6, 2021.

Former Secretary of Defense Speaks Up

A former government official has spoken up recently in confirmation of that fear. The former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, highlighted an important issue in American Democracy on January 6, 2024.

Source: Wikimedia/United States Senate – Office of Richard Shelby

He shared his thoughts exactly three years after the January 6th attack on the capitol, which was clearly intentional. In his thoughts, he made comments about Donald Trump that have ignited a healthy debate about the health and future of the nation’s democracy.

Trump as a “Threat to Democracy”

During an interview on CNN, Esper accused Trump, his former employer, of being a “threat to democracy.” He went on to state that Trump is a threat to “democracy as we know it, our institutions, our political culture.”

Source: Wikimedia/The White House from Washington

The seriousness of his concerns is not to be taken lightly. His firsthand experience in the Oval Office during Donald Trump’s presidency means that the man knows exactly what he’s talking about, and his words should not be dismissed as hyperbole or hyper-liberal rhetoric.

Discussing January 6th

Esper went on to speak about the attack on the capitol that occurred on January 6, 2021. He stated that the riot was a “tragic day in our nation’s history.” He expressed concerns about its long-term impact on American democracy, as well as Trump’s attitude regarding democracy.

Source: Wikimedia/Tyler Merbler from USA

These comments come in light of multiple people who participated in January 6th being charged with serious crimes surrounding the event. Donald Trump himself is under investigation for his participation in multiple election interference schemes, as well as his participation and role in the capitol riot itself.

A Consistent Pattern of Criticism

This interview is not the first time that Esper has expressed doubts about Donald Trump or his suitability to be president. In November of 2022, he labeled Trump as “unfit for office.” This new interview is merely a continuation of his consistent criticism of Trump across various interviews, appearances, and time.

Source: Wikimedia/Brandy N. Mejia

Particularly, Esper has expressed concerns about Trump’s potential to misuse military power in the future. Trump expressed a desire to use national security to maintain power during the contested 2020 election season, a statement that was as chilling then as it is now.

Poor Past Behavior

Trump has also used the military poorly in the past. He used the Insurrection Act to deploy military forces against domestic protesters amid civil unrest during various points of his presidency, so Esper’s concerns are founded in history and fact.

Source: Wikimedia/United States House of Representatives – Office of Robert Aderholt

One particularly chilling example of the tension between Esper and Trump comes from the summer of 2020. Trump suggested “shoot[ing] Americans in the streets” during the George Floyd racial protests that happened that summer, highlighting a fundamental ideological divide between the two.

A Hint as to the Future

This single small example makes clear the internal dynamics and divide of the Trump administration, and gives a clue as to what a potential future Trump presidency would be like. Esper sees his actions as a clear risk, and a hint at his poor decision-making.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

Esper is not the only person who has expressed concern over the possibility of a future Trump presidency, either. His experience in working with Trump as a high-level government official means that his word should be considered especially carefully, but he is far from the only former government official to comment on the issue.

Nikki Haley Weighs In

Former South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley, who is also running for the presidential nomination on the Republican ticket, has also expressed concerns about Trump’s fitness for office. In interviews and on the campaign trail, she has said that Trump was once a good president, but he isn’t anymore.

Source: Wikimedia/South Carolina Governor Nikki R. Haley

Nikki Haley was the United States ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump presidency, and therefore worked closely with the former president as well. She has made clear that she believes that it is time for Trump to step aside, and is one of the myriad Republican candidates who have run this primary season who has not apologized for Trump’s actions on January 6.

Trump as the Frontrunner

Despite a good deal of controversy, Trump still appears to be the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president. The establishment GOP is walking a fine line with the former President, attempting to capture his base of fervent supporters while not alienating more moderate Republicans who want to move on from Trump.

Source: Wikimedia/United States Senate – Office of Dan Sullivan

Esper is one of those Republicans, and recently released a book detailing his time working in the Trump administration. His memoir, “A Sacred Oath” details various anecdotes from his time, and many see the book as painting Trump and his leadership style in a deeply unflattering light.

The Hot Takes Will Keep Coming

As the 2024 elections approach, and as Trump is almost guaranteed to gain the nomination from the RNC, it’s almost certain that these takes on his administration and leadership style from fellow Republicans will become more common.

Source: Wikimedia/Ali Shaker/VOA

Whether it will convince anyone not to vote for Trump is uncertain. America appears to be in a political time where most people who are going to vote have already decided who they will, or won’t vote for, and no amount of fact or rhetoric will ultimately change their mind, no matter what the potential threat to American democracy is.