The Democratic Erosion Project exist to help shed light on how democracy falls apart and ways to preserve it as the rise of authoritarian states spread across the democratic world. However in the context of the United States, stealth authoritarianism is an American compromise due to being the end result of a democratic society that place social hierarchy and unrestrained capitalism above all else. A moral decay exist as former 45th president, Donald Trump, is legally allowed to re-run for president despite the 91 indictment charges against him and the only way to disqualify him if the Senate impeach him in a hearing. The problem was the Senate in Congress is filled with mostly his supporters from the GOP party and a few Democrats that overturned the hearings TWICE. Removing a rich sociopathic white supremacist from political office of the highest public image does not fix the issue that stems from conflicting values that a country was built on.
Stealth authoritarianism is when political actors used the legally available tools meant to promote and protect democracy to destroy it instead in the most subtle ways under neutral and fair sounding policies and laws. In America, both major political parties and non-partisan elected officials are guilty of this regardless of being the lesser evils in certain cases to voters. When it comes to the comparison of local politics to those on the national level, the culture is what allow stealth authoritarianism to flourish in places such as the state of Georgia being an example that would later impact the national elections.
Despite the death threats that Fani Willis, the Fulton County District Attorney and her colleagues received for taking the responsibility of indicting Trump and his local conspirators in Georgia, she and the other Democratic Party representatives should not be viewed as heroes for simply doing their jobs as elected officials against a fascist demagogue. Harping on Trump nationally is easy, while various Georgia Democratic party prosecutors are avoiding the “Cop City” case in Atlanta, where their large voter base is located and a conflicting interest exist with strong non-partisan elected council members at city hall. The Cop City Project is a 90-million-dollar plan to turn 85 acres of land into a training ground for mostly law enforcement, however the citizens of Atlanta are protesting the construction. Residents fear further militarization of Georgia’s police force upon marginalized racial communities along with the pollution and flooding that comes from the construction and usage of the training facility. Money that was supposed to promote economic growth is invested in an industry that profit off of mass incarceration as a response to growing crime rates. Civil society protests of this have been going on since the purchase of the abandoned state prison farmland in 2020 by the government of Atlanta as both city hall and the construction site become political battle grounds.
What started off as environmental issue now became a social justice issue as various interest groups connect and clash with the government. A series of protest encampments by environmentalist at the construction site have led to police brutality and repeated mass arrest that eventual retaliation have escalated to a protestor being killed on 01/18/23, along with a private autopsy later in February of that year disproving the claim the deceased fired a shot which injured an officer. In response to Manuel Tera’s death by police in January, mass protest spread to downtown Atlanta that allowed Republican Governor Nathan Deal signed an executive order to call up to 1,000 National Guards for 2 weeks of crowd control. City government tried to pacify the public by including certain environmental protection clauses in the construction of the training facility, but the protest still goes on toward the tone-deaf government.
Civil society kept being eroded as more taxpayer’s money is spent on the project despite protest at city hall on 05/15/23 and 06/06/23. Both protest dates included long 7-15 hours of public comments by local residents opposing the project. From the month of June to September of 2023, citizens launched a petition campaign to push for a public vote on the issue of Cop City, however Atlanta City Hall used various stall tactics to put the petition in legal limbo. The situation is bad as the mayor of Atlanta told petition organizers that their attempts are futile, the Republican leaderships of Georgia praised the Atlanta government, and Democratic Senators who were vocal against their political opposition for voter suppression is now quiet on this issue. The consequences of this will impact the presidential election of 2024 and many others as voters are alienated in the face of authoritarianism being allowed on the local and state level.
In regards to activists, on 05/31/23, the GBI and Atlanta Police arrested 3 lead organizers of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, who had been raising money to bail out protestors with charges of money laundering and charity fraud under the RICO law. On 06/23/23, Dekalb County District Attorney, Sherry Boston, announcing she is withdrawing from all related cases to the training center due to a “difference in philosophy” from her Republican co-worker. This difference is refusing mass indiscriminate charges of domestic terrorism upon all those protestors arrested, which included an observer from the Southern Poverty Law Center. Mass incarceration along with suppression of civil rights is a part of Georgia’s history and culture.
Before Cop City and Georgia being Trump Country , Georgia was one of many states to use the cross-check voter ID system to combat so called voter fraud since 2005. Before Nathan Deal became governor, he was the secretary of state , who was in charge of the state’s election system. As the secretary of state, Deal face repeated lawsuits by various civil rights groups for using the cross-check system to suppress voting rights of racial minority groups along with the general poor white population being collateral damage. This lead to constant voter registration campaigns by various civil rights groups to make sure voters are still on the registration list. The situation gets worst as in 2013, the Supreme Court struck down key parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that require states with the most horrible record of voter discrimination to get a federal official’s permission before states are allowed to set up any laws and changes in regard to voting. This makes registration to vote and options to submit ballots becoming limited and inconvenient. One recent Georgia law passed by Deal was S.B. 202, which criminalized non-poll workers for handling out food and water to voters waiting in line. Imagine this issue on a hot day with a long line filled with the most vulnerable such as senior citizens.
Unless the culture on the local and state levels changes, its influences will spread and persist nationwide in government. Georgia started off as a penal colony with a far removed government then over time evolved into a chattel slave state that became part of the white supremacist Confederacy during the American Civil War. Afterwards is just the continuation of Jim Crow culture adapting with stealth authoritarianism that makes real change starts at home.