What Happens When Freedom Erodes?
The issue of democracy in the United States has been very much debated. The issues has gained significant popularity during the current presidential administration. Many have called into question the tactics that Trump has been using to push his agenda. This has mainly been through Trump’s use of social media to criticize his opposition. Trump’s use of Twitter has helped limit democratic processes of other government branchesand has caused the outcomes of many issues to change. He has continuously pushed an agenda for himself instead of the people. With this continuous push for his own agenda, Trump has made it difficult for Democrats to ever regain the majority support within Congress.
In the article What Happens When Freedom Erodes, Dan Slater addresses to what extent the United States is facing electoral authoritarianism and illiberal democracy. He defines electoral authoritarianism as an election “in which rulers win power through elections, but the elections are either manipulated or the playing field between incumbents and opponents between elections is far from fair.” On the other hand illiberal democracy is defined as “rulers freely win elections but then abuse both their authority and minority populations with the power they win.” Slater uses countries such as Singapore, Philippines and Myanmar to give the examples of countries that are currently facing these issues.
In regards to the United States the country has become an electoral authoritarianism because the Republican Party has became more concerned with winning elections than winning majorities. They have either consciously or unconsciously created the “other” group. This idea of the “other” has made it difficult for the Democratic Party to disband the Republican control that is limiting competition. By limiting competition, the republicans are also limiting democracy. There cannot be democracy without competition, but then there is the question how much competition equates a democracy?
With no competition how can minority groups gain representation? If we allow only the majority to make and pass laws, minorities will always be looked over. The laws were put in place to only help the majority. Even if the Democrats regained majority control it would be hard to fight previously enacted laws. With the current political climate it seems as though the minorities are going to remain minorities due to such massive polarization.
We can relate this idea with the idea of populist. According to the article How Democracies Fall Apart populist distrust elites and experts and disdain institutions. We can especially see this within the Trump Administration. Trump is constantly calling the media fake news and referring to them as having a hate agenda whenever they express a view that goes directly against his own views. This is especially clear when Trump criticized judges for attacking his Muslim ban. Trump’s continued criticism and use of referencing his opposition as the other is slowly undercutting the current establishment of democracy. Are we truly democratic still if the media cannot freely speak against the president or is freedom slowly eroding?
In How Democracies Fall Apart, Kendall-Tayor & Frantzassert that these representatives, also known as Populist, have began marginalizing their opposition in order to undermine major institutions. The Trump Administration has packed the Senate and The Supreme Court with those who share their ideology. Even after much public backlash and clear disdain from American citizens, Trump was able to get Kavanaughappointed to the highest court in the land. Kendall-Tayor & Frantz consider this play by Congress a very consistent and straightforward strategy that’s mainly used in the judiciary branch.
All in All, Democrats will have to battle Republicans in order to regain majority support. With both the courts and the Senate packed with Republicans, Democrats will have trouble passing any legislation in favor of their constituents. Kendall-Tayor & Frantz insinuate that this is due to the fact that “populist enjoy substantial popular support, they tend to have broad approval for many of their proposed changes.” Democrats would need to gain the popular vote in states that are typicallyconsidered ”red states.” This could possibly take years or even decades based on recent trends of voter support. Families are continuously voting based on familiar beliefs without even researching opponents to their beliefs.
With all this in mind, the United States has been evolving into an electoral authoritarianism. As was stated earlier this occurs when “the playing field between incumbents and opponents between elections is far from fair.” I don’t anticipate that the United States will be seeing a majority Democratic government for a while. The current populist will be tough components and previously enacted legislation will still not be in favor of the democratic constituents.