Underestimating the Republican Threat to Democracy

By Thomas
September 13, 2023

The authors of the prescient 2018 book about the Trump/Republican aim to destroy democracy publish an update—and it’s even more alarming.

One of the most influential books of the Trump years was “How Democracies Die” by the Harvard government professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. Their warning: “Over the past two years, we have watched politicians say and do things that are unprecedented in the United States — but that we recognize as having been the precursors of democratic crisis in other places.”

The two have published a new book, “Tyranny of the Minority.”  In her review of the book, New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg says she was “surprised to learn that Levitsky and Ziblatt were shocked by Jan. 6.” Though they had studied violent insurrections all over the world, in their new book, they write “we never imagined we’d see them here. Nor did we ever imagine that one of America’s two major parties would turn away from democracy in the 21st century.”

What astonished them the most, Levitsky said in an interview with Goldberg, “was the speed and the degree to which the Republican Party Trumpized.” In their 2018 book, they had reproved Republicans for failing to stop Trump’s rise to power. But at the time, he said, “we didn’t consider or call the Republican Party an authoritarian party. We did not expect it to transform so quickly and so thoroughly.”

In “Tyranny of the Minority,” they attempt to make sense of how Republicans caused American democracy to erode so fast. Among the Western democracies in recent years, only in America “has a defeated leader attempted a coup. And only in America is the coup leader likely to once again be the nominee of a major party.

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