David Rivera

An op-ed by Visiting Assistant Professor of Government David Rivera was published on Medium on Oct. 13. In “‘Thin Skin’ and Presidents: A Dangerous Combination?” Rivera touched on an issue facing voters in this year’s presidential election – what would happen to relationships between the United States and other countries should Donald Trump be elected?

Rivera said, “Drawing lessons from the policies pursued by world leaders who similarly exhibit a high degree of sensitivity to criticism, especially ones whom Trump has claimed to admire, may shed light on this question.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “tenure in office has witnessed a considerable amount of violence and warfare,” Rivera noted, adding that “Putin’s intolerance of criticism represents a little appreciated but real source of the deterioration of Russian-American relations over the last decade and a half.”

In comparing Putin and Trump, Rivera said that since Trump has never held elected office, “voters have a limited basis on which to predict his behavior as president.”

He pointed out that “Trump’s ideology has been called ‘a kind of fortress conservatism,’ which is also a rather apt characterization of Putin’s current ideological leanings. In addition, Trump’s recent promise to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate [Hillary] Clinton’s use of a private email server after he becomes president echoes Putin’s actual jailing of political opponents.”

Rivera concluded, “As we have seen, both men possess rather ‘thin skin.’”

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