Wednesday, September 11, 2019

How Democracies Die

Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt's book "How Democracies Die" is an interesting read.   The authors discuss how countries outside of the United States have permitted or averted demagogues from controlling the state.

Two threads are of particular interest to me.  The first is that demagogues have been defeated when members of their own political party draw boundaries around and protest not only inhumane actions, but those that undermine the democratic process.  Parliament has drawn the boundaries with Boris Johnson who on his own would continue with Brexit through a hard exit.  Parliament is repeatedly telling Mr. Johnson that Brexit should only happen under an agreement.  Rarely has the US Congress, and particularly the Republican party drawn boundaries around President Trump's actions, or even publicly criticized the president.   Opposition criticism becomes fodder for the would-be demagogues' claims of victimization. 

Secondly, in order to defeat a demagogue in an election, parties and voters must agree upon a candidate they will support, even if that candidate is mediocre or against some of the major policies of the uniting parties.  In other words,  just agree to elect anyone who is not a demagogue nor seeks to become one and voters interrupt the would be demagogue's path to power.

It is unlikely that the Republicans will take an aggressive stance against the erosion of democracy because they have already condoned many variations from the norm of civil democracy - for example, refusing to consider the nomination of Merrick Garland to the US Supreme Court.  So we must rely on voter turnout for whoever is the opposition nominee.  Voters may have had grievances against the Clintons that either stopped them from voting or turned them toward Mr. Trump.  For the next presidential election, the only analysis needs to be which candidate will do the least damage to a democratic state.

Books and articles, Margaret Drew | Permalink


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