Posted: Jun 17, 2021 5:32 am
by Seabass

Call it authoritarianism

The Republican Party has embraced an agenda that rigs the rules in their favor. There’s a name for that behavior.

American democracy is in a bad way, and the Republican Party is the reason why.

Blocking an inquiry into the January 6 attack on the Capitol, embracing Trump’s “Big Lie” that the election was stolen, making it easier for partisans to tamper with the process of counting votes: These are not the actions of a party committed to the basic idea of open, representative government.

It’s common to call this GOP behavior “anti-democratic,” but the description can only go so far. It tells us what they’re moving America away from, but not where they want to take it. The term “minority rule” is closer, but euphemistic; it puts the Republican actions in the same category as a Supreme Court ruling, countermajoritarian moves inside a democratic framework rather than something fundamentally opposed to it.

It’s worth being clear about this: The GOP has become an authoritarian party pushing an authoritarian policy agenda.

There are many kinds of authoritarian systems, and many ways to become one of them. In the United States, the threat that looms is a slide into what scholars call “competitive authoritarianism”: a system that still holds elections, but under profoundly unfair conditions that systematically favor one side. That process, of one party stacking the deck in its favor over the course of years, isn’t unique — we’ve seen it in countries across the world in recent years, in places as diverse as Hungary, Turkey, and Venezuela.

Understanding what’s happening in the US as something fundamentally similar to what’s happened elsewhere — using the a-word, unflinchingly — helps us not only diagnose the most dangerous policy steps the GOP is taking, but also truly appreciate the gravity of the situation in which America has found itself.

We are suffering from the same rot that has brought down democracy in other countries: a party that has decided it no longer wants to play by the rules and that would instead prefer to rule as authoritarians rather than share power with its opponents.