Q&A: Book sees parallels between Trump's presidency, erosion of democracy in other countries

Michael Finnegan, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

A: American democracy is pretty robust. Our democratic institutions are strong. American democracy is therefore not easy to kill, so I'm not one of those people running around crying that fascism is around the corner.

However, this is a guy who prior to being elected clearly showed that he had a weak commitment to basic democratic principles, that he was willing to encourage violence, undermine the credibility of our electoral process, attack the press.

Trump came in talking about locking up his rival, paying the lawyer's fees of supporters who beat up opposition activists, and so for good reason, opposition groups began to push back. There were marches, rallies, calls for impeachment within days of his swearing-in.

So what happens -- and we've seen this in many other cases, including Turkey, Venezuela, Argentina, Peru -- the president then feels besieged and then pushes back harder.

What's clearly happening, and I consider this threatening, is that Trump's attacks on core democratic institutions are eroding our citizens' confidence in those institutions.

What Trump has done, in insisting that our electoral process is rigged, is convince large numbers of Americans that our elections are not free and fair.


Q: Are Trump's attacks on the credibility of the FBI a problem?

A: Since the post-Nixon reforms, the FBI has been a professional, independent agency. It has been a pretty effective referee for the last couple generations, and Trump is clearly tarnishing that.

He has convinced the bulk of his party and a good chunk of the American electorate that the FBI is conspiring against him and working with the Democratic Party, which of course could be used to justify measures taken to purge its leadership and replace it with allies.

Q: Why does his breaking of norms alarm you?


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