“A Disaster Coming”: The Twin Threats to American Democracy

Most Republican politicians who have confronted Mr. Trump, on the other hand, have now lost their jobs or will soon do so. For example, of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him for his role in the Jan. 6 attack, eight have since chosen to retire or lost Republican primaries, including Rep. Liz Cheney Wyoming.

“Everything indicates that the Republican Party — upper level, middle level and grassroots — is a party that can only be described as not committed to democracy,” Levitsky said. He added that he is significantly more concerned about American democracy than he was when his and Mr. Ziblatt’s book How Democracies Die came out in 2018.

Juan José Linz, a political scientist who died in 2013, coined the term “semi-loyal actors” to describe political officials who typically do not initiate attacks on democratic rules or institutions, but neither do they attempt to stop those attacks. Through their complicity, these semi-loyal actors can cause a party and a country to slide towards authoritarianism.

This is what happened in Europe in the 1930s and in Latin America in the 1960s and 70s. More recently it happened in Hungary. Now there are similar signs in the United States.

Often, even Republicans who differ from Mr. Trump include tongue-in-cheek references to his conspiracy theories in their campaigns, saying they too believe “election integrity” is a big issue. Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, for example, recently lobbied for voters.

In Congress, Republican leaders have largely stopped criticizing the violent attack on the Capitol. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the leader of the Republican House of Representatives, has gone so far as to signal his support for colleagues — like Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene — who have used violent imagery in public comments. Ms. Greene said before she was elected to Congress that she supported the idea of ​​executing prominent Democrats.

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