Authoritarian Experts: Americans Are Running Out Of Time To Stop Trump
The United States is sliding into authoritarianism under President Donald Trump, and Americans are running out of time to stop it, experts on the subject have warned.
Business Insider reported that while Trump’s tendency toward authoritarianism has been apparent from the moment he became president — attacking democratic institutions “when he's felt its actions were unfavorable to his agenda or public appearance” and gravitating toward the world’s authoritarians as he pushes away traditional allies — top experts on authoritarianism, fascism, and democracy have become increasingly alarmed following his recent Senate acquittal.
House Democrats’ impeachment over Trump’s Ukraine dealings was ultimately unsuccessful, and since his acquittal, the president has begun purging the White House of those who testified against him in the impeachment inquiry.
And his attorney general, William Barr, intervened in the trial of Roger Stone, Trump’s longtime friend and confidant who awaits sentencing for multiple felony convictions.
Experts are no longer convinced “that the robust political system in the US, with its checks and balances and constitutional norms,” will keep Trump in check — and they are warning Americans that it is time to act.
"There need to be mass protests," Jason Stanley, a Yale philosophy professor who wrote "How Fascism Works," told Business Insider. "The Republican Party is betraying democracy, and these are historical times. Someone has got to push back.”
"The deeply worrying moment is when you start to become a one-party state," Stanley warned. "The Republican Party has shown that it has no interest in multi-party democracy ... They are much more concerned with power, with consolidating power."
He added that the behavior of Trump and Republicans is now "straight from the literature on authoritarianism."
That Americans are not out in the streets protesting en masse only acts as "a further sign to the party in power that they can go ahead and do what they want,” Stanley said.
Now, there is no reason for Trump to stop pushing the limits of his power, University of Georgia political scientist Cas Mudde observed.
"From the moment he entered the Republican primary in 2015 to his impeachment five years later, Donald Trump has ignored advice to moderate and change and, in his view (which is largely correct), won. He has tested the boundaries of people and institutions several times and found them to be bendable and weak,” said Mudde, who is an expert on populism, extremism, and democracy.
He added: "There is absolutely no reason for him to stop pushing. It goes against both his personality and his experience."
But the problem is not truly America’s democratic institutions, Mudde said, as they are still intact. The issue is whether Republicans will find the courage to stand up to Trump and for the rule of law — without this, institutions are robbed of any potential to put a rogue president back in his place.
"It's almost all of the Republican Party," Stanley, the Yale professor, told Business Insider. "Mitch McConnell already showed that he has no loyalty to the rule of law when he denied Obama the right to appoint Supreme Court justices ... It's a much deeper problem."
"We need conservatives and Republicans to stand up for the rule of law, and if we don't have that, it's over,” he predicted.
Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a New York University historian and expert on authoritarianism, suggested that if Americans are truly concerned over Trump’s “abuse of power,” then they need to mobilize ahead of the 2020 election and use "their electoral power to vote out these authoritarians while they still can."