A while back, I posted on the similarities between Donald Trump and dictators past. Not exact parallels – history doesn’t give us those – but enough similarities that we should be very concerned about the direction of our country. Here’s a good article that says some of the same things. My question continues to be whether we can turn it around.
Because there is no single moment – no coup, declaration of martial law, or suspension of the constitution – in which the regime obviously “crosses the line” into dictatorship, nothing may set off society’s alarm bells. Those who denounce government abuse may be dismissed as exaggerating or crying wolf. Democracy’s erosion is, for many, almost imperceptible.
It’s important to recognize those similarities (not exact parallels – I’m emphasizing this for the pedants in the jackaltariat). My bolding:
A comparative approach reveals how elected autocrats in different parts of the world employ remarkably similar strategies to subvert democratic institutions. As these patterns become visible, the steps toward breakdown grow less ambiguous –and easier to combat. Knowing how citizens in other democracies have successfully resisted elected autocrats, or why they tragically failed to do so, is essential to those seeking to defend American democracy today.
There are two big steps. We failed the first by electing Donald Trump.
How serious is the threat now? Many observers take comfort in our constitution, which was designed precisely to thwart and contain demagogues like Trump. Our Madisonian system of checks and balances has endured for more than two centuries. It survived the civil war, the great depression, the Cold War and Watergate. Surely, then, it will be able to survive Trump.
We are less certain. Historically, our system of checks and balances has worked pretty well – but not, or not entirely, because of the constitutional system designed by the founders. Democracies work best – and survive longer – where constitutions are reinforced by unwritten democratic norms.
Republicans have been eroding those norms since at least the mid-90s. And they are doing nothing to enforce the checks and balances. Some are helping Trump avoid the checks and balances.
We don’t yet know how the story turns out for America.
The last time I wrote about this, a troll disrupted the comment section. Trolls can’t do that unless jackals fall for the trolls’ tricks. Another of my continuing themes is information warfare. Remember what they say about troll nutrition.