The New York Times, owned by anti-Trump billionaire Carlos Slim, has advised Americans to remain vigilant because President-elect Donald Trump is a “threat” to our Democratic system.
Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, writing for the New York Times, claimed that Trump has “authoritarian” and “anti-democratic” tendencies.
“Drawing on a close study of democracy’s demise in 1930s Europe, the eminent political scientist Juan J. Linz designed a ‘litmus test’ to identify anti-democratic politicians,” they said. “His indicators include a failure to reject violence unambiguously, a readiness to curtail rivals’ civil liberties, and the denial of the legitimacy of elected governments.”
It is worth noting that Linz, a native of Spain, held strong preferences for parliamentary systems of government, arguing they were better safeguards of democratic values than presidential systems of government.
“Mr. Trump tests positive,” they argued. “In the campaign, he encouraged violence among supporters; pledged to prosecute Hillary Clinton; threatened legal action against unfriendly media; and suggested that he might not accept the election results.”
They suggested Trump “openly challenged the legitimacy of the electoral process” by repeating the “false claim” that millions of people voted illegally.
Trump’s claim is not as false as the editorial writers suggested, while reports of voting irregularities in Wayne County, Michigan (Detroit) indicated many votes for Hillary Clinton may have been counted twice.
Arguing that the Constitutional system of checks and balances is not enough to curtail Trump’s authoritarian tendencies, Levitsky and Ziblatt suggest “informal norms” such as “partisan self restraint and fair play” are also necessary.
Laying the blame squarely on Republicans for the breakdown in “partisan self-restraint”, the editorial writers conveniently ignored President Obama’s effort to railroad his agenda through Congress, backed by procedural changes instituted by then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, with absolutely no input or support from Congressional Republicans.
In addition, by ridiculously suggesting that presidential power has been “reined in by the prudence and self-restraint of our presidents,” they ignore President Obama’s unprecedented use of Executive Actions to push his agenda through despite Congressional opposition once Republicans took control of Congress in 2010.
“If ordinary circumstances prevail, our institutions will most likely muddle through a Trump presidency,” they suggest. “It is less clear, however, how democracy would fare in a crisis. In the event of a war, a major terrorist attack or large-scale riots or protests — all of which are entirely possible — a president with authoritarian tendencies and institutions that have come unmoored could pose a serious threat to American democracy.”
“We must be vigilant. The warning signs are real.”