WaPo: The U.S. Has A High Likelihood Of Becoming A Full-Fledged Autocracy
A project that tracks the health of democracies around the world has found that three years into Donald Trump’s presidency, “American democracy has eroded to a point that more often than not leads to full-blown autocracy," The Washington Post reports.
The project, called V-Dem, or Varieties of Democracy, is an effort to precisely quantify global democracy at the country level based on hundreds indicators assessed annually by thousands of individual experts.
- According to V-Dem’s findings, the U.S. is in the process of “substantial autocratization”, which is a loss of democratic traits. And this process has picked up speed under President Trump.
This is particularly alarming in light of what the group’s historic data show: Only 1 in 5 democracies that start down this path are able to reverse the damage before succumbing to full-blown autocracy.
“The United States is not unique” in its decline, said Staffan I. Lindberg, a political scientist at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg and a founding director of the project. “Everything we see in terms of decline on these indicators is exactly the pattern of decline” seen in other autocratizing nations, like Turkey and Hungary, both of which ceased to be classified as democracies in recent years.
- The U.S. is backsliding on each of the measures V-Dem asks experts to rate, including “the presence of legislative checks on executive power, freedom of personal expression, the civility of political discourse, free and open elections, and executive branch corruption.”
- Michael Coppedge, a Notre Dame political scientist and one of V-Dem’s investigators, said, “Executive respect for the Constitution is now at the lowest level since 1865.”
- Trump’s attacks on U.S. election integrity are particularly concerning, the experts say.
Trump recently said that “the only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged,” for instance, and habitually casts vote-by-mail efforts as inherently fraudulent. Both beliefs are false.
- Coppedge is concerned about election-related violence this year, saying he believes it might happen but adding, “I hope it won’t be widespread or long-lasting."
- Lindberg believes a Trump win this fall will spell the end of democracy for the U.S.
“If Trump wins this election in November, democracy is gone” in the United States, he says. He gives it about two years. “It’s really time to wake up before it’s too late.”