Never before has the United States been governed by such a manifestly corrupt, unqualified president as we do today. Before running for president he had never held any political office but instead pursued a career as a real-estate developer and casino magnate marked by corruption and discrimination at every turn. In just the 26 months he’s been in office, he’s spewed more than 9,000 documented lies or mistruths. His administration is already the most scandal-ridden in US history. He has put numerous cronies and family members in high office, all of them manifestly unqualified for the positions they hold, people like Jared, Ivanka, Don Jr, Betsy, Ben, Rick, Kirstjen, Sarah, Ryan, Brett, and Elliott. He has shamelessly turned a TV entertainment channel, FoxNews, into the capitalist version of a state propaganda organ, and reportedly spends much of his “workday” watching it. He has debased a once-respectable political party and in so doing has singlehandedly created the most politically polarized America since the Civil War era.
How to describe such a regime? It’s certainly no democracy or democratic republic, although many commentators still cling to the term, perhaps out of long habit. Terms like plutocracy (“government by the wealthy”), oligarchy (“government by a few”) or corporatocracy (“government by corporations”) are much more accurate, but none of them quite fits the special nature of the current administration. Then there’s autocracy (“government by a single person having unlimited power; despotism”), which comes as close as any to what our Dear Leader and his followers seem to desire.
But autocracy doesn’t quite go far enough. After all, historical figures like Caesar Augustus, Queen Elizabeth I, and Mao Tse Tung were autocrats, yet they hardly manifested the incompetence or extreme corruptness of our current regime. No, there’s only one word that truly captures the special flavor of what we’re dealing with today: kakistocracy, defined as “government by the most corrupt or least qualified” [American Heritage Dictionary]. It’s a term that merits widespread use in public discourse today.