Calling Trump “just an act of warm-up”, professor warns of democratic collapse in US
Within years, America’s deeply flawed and increasingly fragile democratic system could crumble under the weight of a long-standing reactionary assault and be replaced by a right-wing dictatorship – one for which the former president Donald Trump was “just an act of warming up.”
“The willingness to publicly support the Big Lie has become a litmus test of Republican loyalty to Mr. Trump.”
That was the stern warning Thomas Homer-Dixon, executive director of the Cascade Institute at Royal Roads University and specialist in violent conflict, delivered in a comprehensive editorial in the Canadian newspaper. The Globe and Mail.
Homer-Dixon, the former director of a center for peace and conflict studies at the University of Toronto, warned that the “political and social landscape” of the United States – a deeply unequal and ideologically polarized nation which also happens to be “armed with teeth” —is “flashing with warning signals.”
“By 2025,” he wrote. “America’s democracy could crumble, causing extreme domestic political instability, including widespread civil violence. By 2030, if not sooner, the country could be ruled by a right-wing dictatorship.”
Arguing that prominent reactionary figures such as the late right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh and Trump – who awarded Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2020 – “are as much symptoms” of American political dysfunction as their causes Homer-Dixon argued that the nation’s current crises have their roots in a myriad of historical phenomena:
Some can be traced to the founding of the country – to a lingering distrust of government embedded in the country’s political culture during the Revolution, to slavery, to the political compromise of the Electoral College that slavery engendered, to the over-representation of the rural voting power in the Senate. , and the failure of the Reconstruction after the Civil War.
“But successful policies around the world,” he continued, “have overcome equally fundamental flaws.”
So why is America’s democracy particularly vulnerable to full-scale collapse in the near future?
Homer-Dixon argued that “what seems to have pushed the United States to the brink of losing its democracy today is a multiplier effect between its underlying flaws and recent changes in the ‘material’ characteristics of the United States. the society. “
“These changes include stagnant middle class incomes, chronic economic insecurity and increasing inequalities as the country’s economy, transformed by technological change and globalization, has grown from muscle power, heavy industry and manufacturing as the main sources of its wealth to the power of ideas. , information technology, symbolic production and finance, ”he wrote. and the deepening polarization has crippled the government while widening the gaps. “
Trump and his loyal Republicans are impatient and in a good position to exploit such divisions, many of whom have endorsed the so-called ‘big lie’ that Trump won the 2020 presidential election but was robbed by the Democratic Party .
This lie – which helped fuel the insurgency on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and, according to a new poll, is adopted by two-thirds of GOP voters – is “a potent anti-democratic poison,” Homer-Dixon wrote.
“The willingness to publicly support the Big Lie has become a litmus test of Republican loyalty to Mr. Trump,” he observed. “This is not just an ideological move to promote Republican solidarity against Democrats. It distances its adherents from the psychological dynamic of extreme dehumanization that has led to some of the worst violence in human history. Moral crusade against evil – Republican efforts to gerrymander congressional districts into pretzel shapes, to restrict voting rights, and to take control of state-level electoral machinery. ”
Like The Guardian reported on Sunday that “Donald Trump’s allies and others who have been spreading baseless conspiracy theories about the elections have launched campaigns” for key positions – from governor to secretary of state – who have significant influence over the post-election certification process.
“Republicans who embraced the lies about the election are also running for secretary of state in Michigan, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada,” the outlet noted. “Neglected for years, there is now a wider realization of the enormous power these Secretaries of State wield over the way elections are held and the ballots are counted. This power was demonstrated unprecedentedly in 2020, when secretaries of state made decisions on things like setting up ballot boxes and whether to automatically send requests for postal ballots to voters. “
“Secretaries of State wield enormous unilateral power and, if elected, election deniers could do considerable damage in future elections.” The Guardian added.
Though his worst-case predictions are dire, Homer-Dixon has made it clear that he is far from the only scholar who thinks American democracy is on the verge of total failure.
“Last November, more than 150 professors of politics, government, political economy and international relations called on Congress to pass the free vote law, which would protect the integrity of the American elections but is now blocked in Senate, “he noted. . “This is a time of ‘great peril and risk,’ they wrote.“ Time is running out and midnight is approaching. “”
Homer-Dixon also consulted with experts who have proposed a range of possible outcomes – “none benign” – if Trump returns to power in 2024:
They cited particular countries and political regimes to illustrate where it could take the United States: the Hungary of Viktor Orban, with its coercive legal apparatus of “illiberal democracy”; the Brazil of Jair Bolsonaro, with its chronic social illness and administrative dysfunctions; or the Russia of Vladimir Putin, with its harsh hypernationalist one-man autocracy. All agreed that under a second Trump administration, liberalism will be marginalized and right-wing Christian groups overpowered, while the violence of vigilantes and paramilitary groups will sharply increase.
Homer-Dixon then invoked “another, historic political regime that could portend an even more dire future for the United States: the Weimar Republic.”
“If Mr. Trump is re-elected, the economic and political risks to our country will be endless.”
“Reading a history of the republic condemned last summer, I noticed no less than five disturbing parallels with the current situation in the United States”, he wrote, in particular that “in both cases, a charismatic leader succeeded in unifying right-wing extremists around a political program to seize the state.
Another potential parallel between Weimar and the United States could be “democratic collapse followed by the consolidation of the dictatorship.”
“Mr. Trump may just be a warm-up act – someone ideal to bring the first step, but not the second,” Homer-Dixon wrote. “Back in power, he will be the wrecking ball that demolishes democracy, but the process will produce political and social stagnation. Yet, thanks to targeted harassment and dismissals, he will be able to clear the ranks of opponents of his movement within the state … Then the stage will be set for a more competent leader in management, after Mr. Trump. , bring order to the chaos he created. “
In October, Steve Bannon, Trump’s former White House adviser, openly told the public that GOP “shock troops” should be deployed inside the federal apparatus as soon as the next president takes office. Republican in order to “reconfigure the government” from within.
Anticipating critics who might view his analysis of the state of American democracy as alarmist, Homer-Dixon warned that “we must not rule out these possibilities just because they seem ridiculous or too horrible to imagine.”
“In 2014,” he stressed, “the suggestion that Donald Trump would become president would also have struck almost everyone as absurd. But today we live in a world where the absurd regularly becomes real and l ‘horrible banality. “
As a Canadian, Homer-Dixon focused his call to action on the government of his home country, which he urged to “convene a standing, non-partisan parliamentary committee” to prepare for the possibility of a democratic collapse in the south, an outcome that could have major implications for Canada.
“We must begin by fully recognizing the extent of the danger,” he warns. “If Mr. Trump is re-elected, even under the most optimistic scenarios, the economic and political risks to our country will be innumerable.”
In the United States, advocacy groups are imploring the Democrats who currently control the United States Congress to do everything in their power, including attacking the Senate rules in place, to protect voting rights and rights. state-level democratic institutions of Republicans, who aggressively engage in restricting access to ballots and “hijacking elections” ahead of the crucial 2022 midterm.
“End the filibuster,” rights group Fix Our Senat urged Democrats in a statement. recent tweet. “Pass a law on the right to vote. Save our democracy. “