Strongmen like Trump, whose aim is always to stay in power at any cost, have no respect for democracy ... We must act now to protect democracy or pay the price later. — Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Business Insider Opinion Contributor
Strongmen like Trump, whose aim is always to stay in power at any cost, have no respect for democracy ... We must act now to protect democracy or pay the price later. — Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Business Insider Opinion Contributor
America needs to learn from the history of strongmen or Trumpism is going to continue to destroy US democracy
  • The history of strongman exits from power holds lessons for democratic protection.
  • The way strongmen leave power, and the continuing hold of their personality cults on people, can weaken attempts of the new government to strengthen democracy.
  • The media must not amplify anti-democratic messages, and we should rethink the long period between between election and inauguration.
"If I lose to him, I don't know what I'm going to do," Donald Trump told attendees of a September 2020 rally held in North Carolina, expressing the utter dread of being defeated by his opponent, now-President Joe Biden. "You'll never see me again."

Instead, when his worst fears were realized and Biden was elected president, Trump was everywhere in the media, claiming he had actually won the election. The "stop the steal" campaign he and his GOP allies promoted culminated in the January 6 coup attempt: an assault on the Capitol building meant to stop the certification of Biden's victory and keep Trump in power.

While Trump left office on January 20, the events of the previous months gave Americans first-hand experience of some guiding principles of strongman history. Once such individuals get into power, it can be difficult to get them out. Their exits from power are rarely peaceful, and the way they leave can open the door to their return to power. Here are a few lessons from this tumultuous history we can heed to strengthen American democratic values.


... No one who has lived in an authoritarian state has looked back and wished its propagandists had gotten more media coverage during the window of transition from democracy to something else — which is potentially our situation if Trump returns to power in 2024. That media outlets are assisting the rehabilitation of an impeached former leader who, in autocratic fashion, made the press a target —journalists were among those threatened with violence on January 6 — is tragic as well as politically obtuse.

The authoritarian playbook has no chapter on failure, and strongmen can become vindictive as the reality of losing power dawns. That's why, in those rare cases when an illiberal ruler is voted out of office, a constitutionally-mandated swift exit is preferable.

Democracy is an honor system: we take it on good faith that its norms and customs will be respected. But strongmen like Trump, whose aim is always to stay in power at any cost, have no respect for democracy. We must refuse to amplify their messages and be ready to revise those laws and procedures that leave us vulnerable. Under the right circumstances, no country is immune from democratic erosion. We must act now to protect democracy or pay the price later.
Read the full article: https://www.businessinsider.com/protect-our-democracy-by-learning-from-history-of-strongmen-trump-2021-3