- Jul 2, 2003
How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky, Daniel Ziblatt: 9781524762940 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: BooksNEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “Comprehensive, enlightening, and terrifyingly timely.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice) WINNER OF THE GOLDSMITH BOOK PRIZE...www.penguinrandomhouse.com
Is Trump’s Coup a ‘Dress Rehearsal? Of Something that Always existed within the Republican Party
Democracy no longer ends with a bang—in a revolution or military coup—but with a whimper: the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions, such as the judiciary and the press, and the gradual erosion of long-standing political norms. The good news is that there are several exit ramps on the road to authoritarianism. The bad news is that, by electing Trump, we have already passed the first one.
https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/historians-fear-trumps-failed-coup-is-a-dress-rehearsal.htmlThe separation of powers held. Yet the question remains as to whether these guardrails will last.
The analogy in American history was to Joseph McCarthy, who became anathema only years after he dominated Washington, D.C., with his demagogic anti-communist crusade. Today his name is an insult. This scenario was the most optimistic one possible proffered by any of the experts. However, McCarthy’s downfall happened in an entirely different era when the Republican Party eventually turned him into a pariah.
The alternative scenario proffered is that if false claims of a stolen election will persist like the “stab in the back” myth after World War I in Germany, which wrongfully suggested that democratic politicians had betrayed the army and prevented victory. “This has the result of weakening the regime because it just lowers the legitimacy among large sections of the electorate,”
“One can’t have a democracy [in a two party system] where one of the two parties is not fully committed to democratic norms.” Ziblatt described the current situation as an escalation of constitutional hardball, where political actors “sniff out weakness in constitutional structure,” violating long-standing norms if not technically the law. He pointed to the Trump-led effort in 2020 to have Republican-controlled state legislatures pick their own electors to throw victory to the president, regardless of how their states voted.
The possibility of a step like this was always embedded within the constitutional structure, but no one, until now, had been willing to explicitly overturn the results of a presidential election that already had a clear and decisive winner.
“I worry that this whole post-election process has been the dress rehearsal,” said Harvard political scientist Steven Levitsky