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  • Denis Pepin

How the U.S. Can Save Democracy from Authoritarian Threats

Updated: May 12

Illustration of a political figure standing behind a podium with an American flag in the background and protesters in the foreground.
Illustration depicting a political figure claiming victimhood while protesters gather in the foreground.

The United States has long been regarded as a champion of democracy and human rights, both at home and abroad. However, this reputation may be at risk if the U.S. continues to support or tolerate authoritarian regimes and movements that are friendly to Trump, or if it fails to address its own domestic challenges, such as polarization, inequality, corruption, racism, and violence. Moreover, the possibility of Trump winning the 2024 presidential election would add to the risks and challenges that the U.S. faces, as it would further erode the U.S.'s democratic institutions and norms, and alienate the U.S.'s allies and partners. In this essay, I will argue that the U.S. should uphold its democratic values and principles, not only for its own sake, but also for the sake of the international order and the global community. I will also address the issue of why Trump has so much support from the people, and how this can be overcome.

First, supporting or tolerating authoritarian regimes and movements that are friendly to Trump would undermine the U.S.'s moral authority and credibility as a defender of democratic values and human rights. Trump has shown a clear preference for autocrats and populists over democrats and liberals, praising leaders such as Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, Rodrigo Duterte, Jair Bolsonaro, and Viktor Orban, while criticizing allies such as Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau, and Theresa May. Trump has also expressed admiration for authoritarian tactics and policies, such as suppressing dissent, controlling the media, manipulating elections, and violating human rights. By aligning with such regimes and movements, the U.S. would send a signal that it does not care about democracy and human rights, and that it is willing to sacrifice them for short-term interests or personal gains. This would erode the U.S.'s legitimacy and influence in the world, and embolden other authoritarian actors to challenge the U.S. and its allies. If Trump wins the 2024 election, he would likely continue or intensify his support or tolerance for authoritarian regimes and movements, and further damage the U.S.'s reputation and role as a leader of the free world.

Second, failing to address its own domestic challenges, such as polarization, inequality, corruption, racism, and violence, would weaken the U.S.'s democratic system and society, and make it more vulnerable to internal and external threats. The U.S. is facing a crisis of democracy, as evidenced by the declining trust in institutions, the rising political polarization, the increasing social and economic inequality, the widespread corruption and misinformation, the persistent racism and discrimination, and the recent violence and insurrection. These challenges pose serious risks to the stability and security of the U.S., as well as to the rights and freedoms of its citizens. Moreover, these challenges also undermine the U.S.'s ability to project a positive and attractive image of democracy to the rest of the world, and to inspire and support other countries that are struggling for democracy and human rights. If Trump wins the 2024 election, he would likely exacerbate these challenges, as he has shown little interest or competence in addressing them, and has instead contributed to them by spreading lies, sowing division, inciting violence, and undermining the rule of law.

Third, the U.S. should actively champion global peace and democracy, as this mission is crucial for the preservation of the beleaguered global democratic order, which has been under attack and erosion by the authoritarian forces and trends, such as populism, nationalism, illiberalism, and revisionism. The U.S. has a vital interest in sustaining and strengthening the global democratic order, which is based on the values and norms of freedom, justice, equality, and democracy, and which provides the framework and mechanism for international cooperation and governance. By supporting and empowering the democratic actors and forces, the U.S. can help resist and reverse the authoritarian challenges and threats, and uphold and protect the democratic gains and achievements. By promoting and demonstrating the benefits and advantages of democracy, the U.S. can help inspire and encourage the democratic aspirations and demands, and foster and facilitate the democratic transitions and changes.

Fourth, the U.S. should address the issue of why Trump has so much support from the people, and how this can be overcome. According to various studies and analyses, Trump’s supporters are motivated by a number of factors, such as:

  • National collective narcissism: This is the belief that one’s nation is superior and entitled to special treatment and recognition from others. A 2017 study found a direct link between national collective narcissism and support for Trump.

  • Social dominance orientation (SDO) and authoritarianism: SDO is the preference for hierarchical and unequal social relations, while authoritarianism is the tendency to submit to authority and conform to social norms. A 2016 survey of 406 US adults found that those who scored high on both SDO and authoritarianism were more likely to vote for Trump.

  • Economic anxiety and resentment: This is the feeling of insecurity and dissatisfaction with one’s economic situation and prospects, as well as the perception of being left behind or cheated by the elites and the system. Many Trump supporters are blue-collar workers, small business owners, or rural residents who see their jobs and livelihoods threatened by globalization, immigration, and automation.

  • Cultural backlash and identity politics: This is the reaction against the perceived erosion or threat to one’s cultural values, traditions, and identity, especially by the forces of modernization, secularization, and diversity. Many Trump supporters are white, Christian, or conservative voters who feel that their status and identity are under attack by the liberal, progressive, or multicultural agenda.

To overcome these factors, the U.S. should adopt a comprehensive and inclusive strategy that involves the following elements:

  • Educating and informing the public about the facts and realities of the issues that affect them, and countering the misinformation and propaganda that are spread by Trump and his allies.

  • Engaging and dialoguing with the people who are dissatisfied or disillusioned with the political system, and addressing their legitimate grievances and concerns, while challenging their prejudices and biases.

  • Empowering and mobilizing the people who are committed to democracy and human rights, and encouraging them to participate and vote in the elections, and to hold the elected officials accountable for their actions.

  • Reforming and improving the institutions and mechanisms that uphold democracy and human rights, such as the electoral system, the media, the judiciary, and the civil society, and ensuring that they are transparent, fair, and responsive to the people’s needs and interests.

By doing so, the U.S. would not only preserve and improve its democracy and human rights, but also regain and reinforce its moral authority and credibility as a defender of democratic values and human rights in the world. This would benefit not only the U.S., but also the international order and the global community, as democracy and human rights are essential for peace, justice, and development. However, this would also require the U.S. to prevent Trump from winning the 2024 election, as he poses a serious threat to the U.S.'s democracy and human rights, and to the world’s stability and security. Therefore, the U.S. should mobilize its democratic forces and institutions, and ensure a free and fair election that reflects the will of the people.


Don’t let the Trump-Abyss Drag You Down!

Trump-Abyss is a blog that reveals the harmful truth of Donald Trump. His actions have undermined democratic principles, provoked unrest, and disseminated false information. He has brought us perilously close to a nuclear conflict, estranged friendly nations, and strengthened adversaries. His conduct has demonstrated a profound disregard for the welfare of society and the principles of justice.

Share the Trump-Abyss blog with your friends, and family, and on social media platforms. The more people are aware of the dangers of a Trump’s presidency, the more they can take action to prevent or mitigate them. Together, we can defend our democracy and our planet from the Trump-Abyss. You have the power to stand up for what is right and fight for a better future. Whether you choose to vote, protest, donate, or educate, you are making a difference in the world.


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