Sunday, September 20, 2020

Would You Believe The U.S. Is Turning Towards Autocracy? You Should-- It Is



A new poll by YouGov for Yahoo News found that only 22% of Americans think this year's election will be "free and fair." That's very bad; it undermines democracy-- something the Donald has been doing for years. And there are liable to be "millions of partisans refusing to accept the legitimacy of the results... Half of Trump supporters (50 percent) say the election will not be free and fair; more than a third of Biden supporters (37 percent) agree," wrote Andrew Romano. "Overall, the number of Americans who say the election will not be free and fair (46 percent) is more than twice the number who say the opposite. Another third (32 percent) say they’re not sure what to expect.

Trump’s supporters have largely bought into his false and dangerous claim that the U.S. political system cannot deliver a legitimate outcome in which their candidate loses. Nearly half of Trump supporters (48 percent) say the election will be rigged. Twice as many (45 percent) say there will be enough fraud to swing the outcome as say there won’t (22 percent). And a staggering 61 percent say “the only way Donald Trump is going to lose is November is if the election is rigged,” parroting the president.

As a result, Trump supporters are the only group of Americans who are torn over which is more important: “determining the outcome of the election quickly, even if many mail-in ballots have not been counted” (48 percent) or “waiting for mail-in ballots to be counted so we are sure which candidate won, even if the process drags on for some time” (52 percent).

In contrast, nearly all Biden supporters favor counting every vote (91 percent) over determining the outcome quickly (9 percent)-- a position that three-quarters of Americans agree with.

This difference reflects a deeper divide between the right and left over what represents the greatest threat to the integrity of the election: “people voting who shouldn’t be allowed to vote” versus “people who should be allowed to vote not being allowed to vote.” Nearly three-quarters of Trump supporters (72 percent) say the former will be a bigger problem on Election Day; 82 percent of Biden supporters say the latter.

In reality, extensive research has shown that election fraud (such as intentional double voting) is a minor phenomenon that does not occur at levels sufficient to sway a presidential contest. Voter suppression-- the left’s concern-- exerts a much greater influence over election results.

The upshot is that many Biden supporters now fear voter suppression or foreign interference could help Trump win. Nearly half (44 percent) don’t believe experts who say a U.S. presidential election cannot be rigged, and roughly the same number (27 percent) think the election will be rigged in favor of one candidate or another, presumably Trump. A full 89 percent of Biden supporters are either very or somewhat worried that people will be prevented from voting, while 76 percent are very or somewhat worried that foreign countries will interfere. The same number (76 percent) worry that legitimate mail ballots will not be counted.

And so if November’s election is anything short of a landslide, it’s not hard to imagine a disaster scenario in which large numbers of Americans come to question the legitimacy of the next president-- no matter who wins.
 It's worse than you think. Late last March, Democracy Without Borders reported that "For the first time since 2001, a majority of all states worldwide are no longer under democratic rule. This is one of the key findings of this year’s report of the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Project which was presented last week. The new report thus confirms the trend of recent years that many countries are on the way towards autocracy. According to the latest results of the Swedish research institute, 92 nations worldwide are classified as autocracies, meaning that 54% of the world’s population now lives in autocratic states. This is eight nations more than in last year’s report and with Hungary there is for the first time an EU member state classified as autocratic. This compares to 87 states worldwide that are classified as democratic. At the peak in 2010, the number was 98... [P]owerful G20 countries with a significant economy, such as the USA, India or Brazil, have slipped down the democracy index."

USA? Did he say USA? Oh, yes. At the Washington Post yesterday Christopher Ingraham reported that scholars are warning that our country is backsliding into autocracy under Trump. And we're on a path that history predicts is difficult to reverse!
Three years into the Trump administration, American democracy has eroded to a point that more often than not leads to full-blown autocracy, according to a project that tracks the health of representative government in nations around the world.

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. It’s one of several ongoing projects by political scientists that have registered a weakening of democratic values in the United States in recent years.

V-Dem’s findings are bracing: The United States is undergoing “substantial autocratization”-- defined as the loss of democratic traits-- that has accelerated precipitously 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.

Each year, the V-Dem project asks its experts to rate their respective nations on hundreds of measures of democracy, such as 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, among others.

The United States is backsliding on all of those measures. “Executive respect for the Constitution is now at the lowest level since 1865,” said Michael Coppedge, a Notre Dame political scientist and one of the project’s chief investigators. “Corruption in the executive branch is basically the worst since Harding.”

Warren G. Harding, whose administration was tainted by corruption and scandal, is routinely ranked among the nation’s worst chief executives.

Trump, for instance, has repeatedly floated the idea of staying in office longer than the constitutionally mandated two terms. The businesses he owns have profited from repeated presidential visits, and federal courts are currently weighing whether he has violated the Constitution’s prohibition against accepting payments from foreign governments. And several current and former members of his inner circle-- including Stephen K. Bannon, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone-- have been arrested or indicted since he took office.

Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at Dartmouth College, said that “experts rate U.S. democracy as getting worse on average,” but there are considerable differences in “how they characterize the severity of the decline we’ve experienced and what they expect in the future.”

Nyhan says he is most concerned about Trump’s repeated attacks on the integrity of U.S. elections. 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.

Nyhan is co-director of Bright Line Watch, a group that routinely surveys hundreds of political scientists to issue periodic assessments of the health of democracy in the United States. Those assessments show a post-2016 decline in democratic performance similar to V-Dem’s data.

“Democracy depends on both sides accepting the results of free and fair elections and willingly turning over power to the other side if they lose,” Nyhan said. “We’ve never had a president attack our electoral system in this way.”

Lindberg refers to presidential attacks on the pillars of democracy as “dictator drift,” and says it’s a common feature of authoritarian leaders around the world.

“That’s Erdogan in Turkey,” he said. “That’s Lukashenko in Belarus. That’s Orban in Hungary. That’s a slew of African dictators.”

He’s concerned about the rise of a sort of “sultanistic” power structure in the GOP, where the party largely abandons its core principles to support whatever the leader wants. The telltale sign of that, he said, was the GOP’s decision to not create a 2020 platform. Instead, it issued a resolution saying, among other things, that “the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda.”

“They just line up behind Trump,” Lindberg says. “That should ring some serious alarm bells. You have a sort of head of a family clan, without a program other than ‘we support this person.’”

Coppedge is particularly concerned about the possibility of election-related violence. “What I most worry about is a scenario with the incumbent president declaring victory before all votes are counted, and his followers believing any additional mail-in ballots are invalid and taking to the streets.”

“I do think there is going to be some election violence,” he added, “and I hope it won’t be widespread or long-lasting."

Lindberg is also deeply troubled by the president’s history of endorsing violence against his perceived political opponents. “This is the precursor of civil war,” he said. “Imagine that Trump loses by a margin that’s not convincing to all his supporters. He refuses to leave the office and encourages his supporters to ‘go out and defend the Constitution.'”

Nyhan says that while these “worst-case scenarios remain unlikely,” we are in “unprecedented times” and should “remain vigilant.”

Coppedge recommends people concerned about these outcomes get involved in the electoral process to help make things better. “Volunteer to become a poll worker, or help some get-out-the-vote effort, or work with a political party to encourage turnout to make sure your side wins by a clear margin,” he said.

“I think that the chances are in the medium term, the long run things are going to work out,” he said. "But I think it’s going to be a bumpy ride between now and January.”

Lindberg is less optimistic.
His feeling is that if Trump wins in November, American democracy is dead and he gives it about two years. "It’s really time to wake up before it’s too late," he said.

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At 6:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

another pundit that is about 20 years late to the wake.

"That's very bad; it undermines democracy-- something the Donald has been doing for years."

It's something the Nazi party has been doing for 40 years. And it's also something the democraps have refused to address for 40 years.

when one party is undoing it and the only other party won't/can't fix it... you end up where we are today.

rule by the .01% using, alternately, the lesser 30% nazis (via the electoral college) and the greater 30% democraps as a mandate... while 40% have no voice (not that they ever demand one...); I ask you, is this democracy?

At 6:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

at least DWT is finally adopting the Mussolini simile. only 3.5 years late. better than average.

now how much longer before you realize the democraps must be euthanized?

it doesn't matter. it's already too late.

Darwin was correct. this society is simply far too stupid and evil to live.

At 7:13 AM, Anonymous Richard Langly said...

DWT first made the comparisons years ago. Take your memory pills. They might also help with your multiple personality disorder.

At 8:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter what Republican voters believe. It is what Republicans in office will do.

Trump has spoken aloud about poor Republican electoral prospects if more people are allowed to vote. All possible efforts are underway to reduce the number of voters, particularly those not expected to support the corporatist rule favored by Republicans. Why should the public space differ in any meaningful way from the workplace? No corporation in the USA is a democracy. To Republicans, this is how everything should be run.

Because corporatism has gone global, this is why so many nations are now ruled by autocrats. There is no other alternative when a "businessman" is granted governing powers. It's all they know or want. The citizens have no more rights than they are granted on the job, which are few. On the job, follow the rules or be fired. In public, follow the arbitrary rules of the autocrat or lose your freedom.

Trump has already made numerous threats against political rivals. He's only waiting for this "election" to legitimize his autocratic desires.

"[Staffan I. Lindberg, a political scientist at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg is] feeling is that if Trump wins in November, American democracy is dead and he gives it about two years. "It’s really time to wake up before it’s too late," he said."

American democracy died 40 years ago. Only now, with the demise of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, do the "Democrats" have the first glimmering of illumination. But then, gardeners approaching the plants with sharp implements tends to cause the plants measurable distress. This is evidenced by flora like Langly talking to himself in his mirror and thinking he's addressing the rest of us with nothing to say.

At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Langston Roberts said...

7:13: Go easy on Mr. Democraps even if he does always act like a know it all. At least he's made an effort to clean up his language. I'm certain he'd like credit for that.

At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What makes you think Langly will listen to you, Roberts? Even you won't be allowed to tell Langly what to do. As a self-appointed superior being yourself, you should inateley be aware of this.

At 8:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

3 replies about stuff. 3 replies about the other repliers.

better than average for greenhouse denizens. I'm hopeful. not!


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