The GOP and the future of democracy in America

The Boston Globe
December 03, 2020

Shortly before the November election, when most polls predicted an election blowout for Democrats, many pundits predicted the collapse of the GOP. “Of all the things President Trump has destroyed,” wrote the New York Times editorial board, “the Republican Party is among the most dismaying.”

It didn’t work out that way. Not only did Republicans hold the Senate — at least until the January runoff for both of Georgia’s Senate seats is decided — they gained seats in the House and strengthened their grip on state legislatures. It seems that rather than die, conservative political parties evolve. The question is: Evolve into what?

According to the V-Dem research institute in Sweden, the GOP shares important characteristics with ruling parties of at least four “illiberal democracies”: Hungary, India, Poland, and Turkey. Liberal democracies limit the power of rulers and protect individual rights through rule of law and the practice of democratic norms by authoritative institutions. Illiberal democracies emerge when autocrats reach office through nominally democratic means and dismantle apolitical civil services, independent media, and impartial judiciaries. Conspiracy theories and disinformation fill the remaining epistemological void, violating shared norms for settling differences and rewriting the narratives about who we are as a nation.

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