With the end of the Cold War, the authors focused on what they considered an interesting phenomenon, namely that most democracies were not overthrown from the outside through violent military coups, but internally through the ballot box and the subsequent seizure of political institutions by autocrats. Although history does not repeat itself, it does “harmonize”, and this harmony is exemplified by the election of Donald Trump in 2016. The authors wish to uncover similar patterns, or “rhymes,” as they say, of the institutional erosion within democracies in both the distant and recent past.
The authors also identified the four main indicators, or behavioral warning signs, of an authoritarian: the verbal or deed rejection of the democratic rules of the game. Second, denying the legitimacy of political opponents. Third, tolerance or encouragement of violence. Finally, the readiness to curtail the civil liberties of the opposition, including the media and social media. In fact, what the two offer against Trump and the death of American democracy condemns the political system as a whole, as the democratic media obscures the voice of opposition. The means of communication are waging war on the Trump campaign, and there is a permanent denial of the existence of a nationalist supportive movement in support of the Trump administration, and finally Hillary Clinton’s democratic call for Joe Biden not to admit defeat according to the rules of the democratic game.
What the authors are trying to confirm condemns them more. Historically, 1968, during the height of the Vietnam War, saw the Democratic nomination of Hubert Humphrey, a less popular candidate. This choice was made without what is now known as primaries (a means of polling people). After the announcement at the Democratic convention in Chicago, violent protests erupted, and spread to the convention hall. After Humphrey was defeated by Richard Nixon in the election, Democrats formed the “McGovern-Fraser Commission,” which led to the primaries becoming mandatory. Since then, the delegates will be chosen by party members, and these delegates are now responsible for selecting the official presidential candidates.
Changing the rules of the democratic game for the Democratic Party is nothing new. Before Humphrey, 1867 was the year of Reconstruction Act, after the end of the American Civil War. At the time, the newly freed black citizens were voting for the Republicans (Abraham Lincoln’s party). The Democrats feared that these new voters would oust them from power in the south, so they changed the voting rules by imposing a tax on polling and introducing the “Dorch Law” that complicated voting and required that only educated citizens be eligible to vote. The new rules were set in place to keep black voters out of the polls, confirming that the Democrats remained the party of the South throughout the next century. But they also undermined the very essence of the democracy they now claim to be, even more racially than they accuse their opponent Trump today. And when you look at the activities of Democrats over the past 100 years, it becomes clear that they have been hard-liners on the cause of freedom in theory, but opportunists in practice.
In the early 1990s, the people of Eastern Europe, and especially the politicians among them, discovered something that was not difficult to discover at the time, is that the fledgling liberal democracy greatly narrowed the scope of what was permissible, incredibly. The last year of the decline of communism had more freedom than the period after the establishment of the new regime. Liberal democracy created a sense of opening many doors and many possibilities to pursue. Soon this feeling evaporated, and freedom diminished through the new discourse of “necessity” that the liberal-democratic system brought with itself. It didn’t take long to discover another, more frustrating one, that this unifying trend was not limited to the post-communist world, nor was it a product of its peculiarities, but one could see its negative effects throughout the history of liberal democracy within Western civilization.
The argument of authors Stephen Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt seems flimsy, rather personal, against Donald Trump’s victory in particular, and their proposition of what they called the rules of the political game and protecting the gates of democracy seems laughable. Going back to history, we find that such democratic rules made America’s staunchest enemies – the Communists – adapt more easily and successfully than the former dissidents and anti-communists who advocated for the new liberal democratic regimes that were established in central and eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. But looking at Ex-communists have more administrative experience, and state institutions have been privatized into their own. Liberal democracy has made it easier for them to bring more resources to control the political game through media and government formation.
Liberal democracy belittles our minds. Those whom it described as dictators, enemies of freedoms, and violators of human rights, transformed overnight by the rules of liberal democracy into social democrats or liberals, and dominated the debate and formed governments. This model was not limited to Eastern Europe, but to Western Europe as well. It appears that public and private institutions, including European Union bodies, have come to see ex-communists as more appropriate than former dissidents as partners in politics and business. It almost seemed as if the anti-communist democrats were seen as a greater threat to the neoliberal democratic order than those who had been its enemies only the day before. In addition to their practical advantages, the ex-communists had an ambiguous ideological advantage: they recognized that liberal democracy is nothing but rules and a game of globalized interests.
When reading “How Democracies Die …”, you will find that the book’s authors have a dogmatic belief in a one-way history that revolves only around humans. There is a remarkable relationship between the political system and that imagined person, a relationship that has not been witnessed in history before, and the communists tried to form a communist man that fits the institution and logic of the communist system, but they swallowed the cup of defeat. But from where they failed, the liberal Democrats proved successful. And if there is any system that is perfectly designed for the aspirations of the people in its orbit, you will find that it is liberal democracy. And if there was any human model ideally designed for the opportunities afforded by the political system and the aspirations it promoted, he was a liberal democrat.
Democracy killers are using the same institutions of democracy
The liberal Democrats wholeheartedly embraced a belief in the inevitability of history. No alternative political paradigms have been drawn or even seriously considered, as the effectiveness of the democratic system remains impressively high. Therefore, liberal democracy will likely continue to expand, and the system will continue to affirm a set of beliefs / rules – as the authors of the book call them – that believers in the liberal democratic order claim not only to live in, but are also the only set of beliefs worth living in. The liberal democrat feels privileged and fortunate because he is not like these “idiots” or unfortunate “miscreants” of the Communists and the National Right who have failed to accept the obvious. All these factors combined reinforce the Democrats ’belief that if the world is to live and develop, it must move in only one direction… the special direction of the liberal democrats.
So the liberal Democrats are absolutely right when they continue to suggest that history is over, and that if the world is to continue to exist in a satisfactory manner, it must develop in the same fashion. Of course, it is quite possible that some new rights will be invented to make everything more convenient.
However, the liberal democratic ideology and its resurgences will prove to be more absurd than before … that people who proudly worship their intellectual independence and revolutionary struggle will surprise everyone once again by adopting it with humility. We can imagine literature that increasingly talks about nothing, the discourse of diversity more vociferously and more concealment of an American-style homology. But all this will be another scene in the same final chapter of the long story that began historically: The long night of liberal democracy!
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