2021-10-04 Brian Klass Authoritarianism tipping points

Brian Klaas (@brianklaas):

  1. A lot of my academic research has involved travelling to places where political violence has led to the breakdown of democracy and the rise of authoritarianism. And a dynamic I’m not sure is fully appreciated in the US is how small numbers of people can create tipping points.

  2. I’ve interviewed coup plotters who organized a few dozen soldiers to take over a government. Some militias that grow into rebel movements start as tiny amateur outfits. But with the right timing, or the right turn of events, democracy can still die at the hands of small groups

  3. This matters because the post January 6th dynamic in the US is one in which a small group of diehard extremists is planning to destroy democracy in 2022/2024. Some aren’t taking them seriously because a somewhat small percentage of Americans support them. It’s a huge mistake

  4. People like Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, etc. have a big platform among these extremists and those violent extremists are taking cues on how to behave. Some will take even comparatively minor calls to action as an incitement to serious violence. That’s extremely dangerous.

  5. Simultaneously, there’s an organized effort to fill key, lower profile election jobs with people who will only certify elections that Republicans win. They’re proponents of the Big Lie - a debunked authoritarian conspiracy theory - and they’re trying to run our elections.

  6. This combination — of hundreds of thousands or even a few million Flynn-style extremists, along with authoritarians in key election jobs — means that significant political violence and official attempts to subvert democracy will likely arise at every US national election.

  7. January 6th didn’t involve that many people. It still shook the foundations of American democracy. What happens when a more organized effort takes place in 2022, with more direct support from people in formal political power? The answer isn’t comforting.

  8. That’s why Democrats need to focus their attention, resources, and political power on passing reforms that protect US democratic institutions from the obvious onslaught that is clearly coming. Because you don’t need anything close to 50% of the population to destroy democracy.

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