somewhat suspicious of each other, extremists can trigger a spiral of increasing hostility by attacking the perceived internal enemy in the hope of provoking a harsh reaction. Those ominous words title a new book, the subtitle of which "Authoritarianism in America" clarifies the "it" that editor Cass Sunstein has in mind. He proposed an un-American religious test for immigrants and refugees to ban Muslims; infected the body politic with nepotistic and business-crony appointees; shrugs off, russian meddling in our elections; and discussed a mass roundup-cum-deportation of illegal immigrants. To repeat: I am not saying this dark scenario of subverted democracy is likely, only that it is far from impossible. Extremists on both sides will try to outbid their political opponents by portraying themselves as the most ardent and effective defenders of their own group. A Harvard law professor, Sunstein has collected essays by diverse thinkers (himself included) who, pondering our presidents autocratic peacock feathers and the rise of authoritarians in other democracies, disagree on whether the.S. If anything, of course, the system turned out to be rigged in his favor, insofar as he lost the popular vote and benefited from a number of obvious efforts to suppress the vote in areas where support for Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent, was high. Hillary Clinton was impolitic but not wrong to label such people deplorables.
In Russia, Putin has won a series of elections and retains high approval ratings, largely because he has eliminated, intimidated, or marginalized anyone who might challenge his control while feeding the Russian people a steady diet of pro-Kremlin propaganda. Thats how Putin controls the oligarchs in Russia, and it is partly how Erdogan kept amassing power and undermining opponents in Turkey.
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For Trump, it seems, the ends really do justify the means. And that should worry all Americans. Given the deep commitment to liberty that lies at the heart of the American experiment, it is also possible the American people would quickly detect any serious attempt to threaten the present order and take immediate action to stop. The good news is that the United States doesnt suffer from some of the traits that make democratic breakdowns more likely: It isnt poor, its political institutions have been around for a long time, and it is not in the middle of a deep economic. Another essay in Sunsteins book, by two psychologists, suggests that authoritarianism is an attribute of the follower, not necessarily of the leader, bred in people by lack of openness to experience and by cognitive limitations. What sort of steps do I have in mind? But the Court has never invalidated the law under which progressive icon Franklin Roosevelt interned 110,000 Japanese Americans during World War II, though Stone says it remains a black mark on the scotus record. But we should be really, really worried. And if its the latter, would the Senate find the spine to say no? But another contributor makes an equally persuasive case that were vulnerable to a president chipping away at the edges of our liberties. Equally important, the Constitution has helped the United States avoid the self-destructive excesses and extreme injustices that are common in authoritarian countries.
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