How to Build an Autocracy

by David Frum, The Atlantic, March 2017 issue

The preconditions are present in the U.S. today. Here’s the playbook Donald Trump could use to set the country down a path toward illiberalism.

David Frum envisages a corrupt but popular Trump starting his second term. But people don’t seem to care any more:

“As the air filled with allegations of insider trading and crony capitalism, the public subsided into weary cynicism.”

Business has learned to keep quiet:

“Wise business leaders take care to credit Trump’s personal leadership for any good news, and to avoid saying anything that might displease the president or his family.”

And the media have stopped doing their job:

“The media have grown noticeably more friendly to Trump as well.”

Of course, in joining George Orwell and other visionaries warning about totalitarianism, Frum needs to show that nothing is inevitable:

“Everything imagined above … is possible only if many people other than Donald Trump agree to permit it.”

We all know that’s the bottom line. Either Americans resist vociferously now or they lost the ability to resist later. And Frum winds up, many pages later:

“…the way that liberty must be defended is not with amateur firearms, but with an unwearying insistence upon the honesty, integrity, and professionalism of American institutions and those who lead them. We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered. What happens next is up to you and me. Don’t be afraid. This moment of danger can also be your finest hour as a citizen and an American.”

Read his whole treatise at The Atlantic… and hope the Trump strategists don’t, because there is too much useful advice for them there on how to steer our country into the autocracy fast lane.

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