Americans who think the coming election is their last chance to save the republic from authoritarianism — Americans, until recently, like me — are almost certainly wrong. Authoritarianism is already here, and what Americans will decide in November is whether it will grow more deeply entrenched.
According to a new report, the U.S. is undergoing “substantial autocratization” — so much so that only one in five similarly damaged democracies has been able to reverse such decline. President Donald Trump’s administration is consuming democratic capacity at about the same pace that wildfire has been destroying the West. The White House has been a source of lies since Trump’s presidency began. Since his impeachment and acquittal by Senate Republicans, his transgressions have grown more aggressive, while being more aggressively supported by the departments of Justice and Homeland Security — together the equivalent of a mighty Security Ministry — both of which are controlled by men who share Trump’s disregard for rule of law.
Under the direction of Attorney General William Barr and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, the state has assumed the form of unidentified men in unmarked vehicles, a hallmark of anti-democratic regimes. Whistle-blowers and protest resignations have become recurring features of both departments. These admirable acts of conscience seek to bring attention to systemic abuses — the corruption of intelligence for political purposes at Homeland Security, and the corruption of law, including favors for friends and vengeance for opponents, at Justice. [Continue reading…]