US Could Fall to Far-Right Dictatorship by 2030, Political Scientist Warns
23:50 GMT 03.01.2022 (Updated: 23:53 GMT 03.01.2022)
A prominent Canadian political scientist, Thomas Homer-Dixon, has written an op-ed postulating that the US is headed toward becoming a far-right dictatorship, and it could be in place as early as 2025.
Homer-Dixon has studied violent conflict throughout his career and believes the US is on its way toward a serious internal conflict that could give rise to a right-wing dictatorship.
“By 2025, American democracy could collapse, causing extreme domestic political instability, including widespread civil violence. By 2030, if not sooner, the country could be governed by a right-wing dictatorship,” Homer-Dixon writes
Detailing a “political and social landscape flashing with warning signals,” Homer-Dixon believes that the supporters of former US President Donald Trump could act as a wrecking ball to American democracy, adding that a political climate conducive to the collapse of American democracy has been building for decades.
The academic recounts anecdotally how in the 1980s he would listen to conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh chisel away at “the moral authority of US political institutions.” In the following decades, those blows, according to him, have “amplified through social media and outlets such as Fox News and Newsmax.”
Homer-Dixon views Trump’s awarding in 2020 of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Limbaugh as both a symbolic and practical embrace of “bullying, populist white ethnocentrism – a rancid blend of aggrieved attacks on liberal elites, racist dog-whistling, bragging about American exceptionalism and appeals to authoritarian leadership.”
The political scientist doesn’t hold Limbaugh solely responsible for the current American political landscape, also noting a long track record of distrust in government that dates back to the country’s founding.
Economic factors have played a sizable role in creating an environment ripe for social upheaval, he suggests, observing that over the past five decades the US economy has shifted from manufacturing to service, information and finance.
“Economic insecurity is widespread in broad swaths of the country’s interior, while growth is increasingly concentrated in a dozen or so metropolitan centres,” writes Homer-Dixon.
Homer-Dixon also points to how the wealthiest Americans, using their influence, have contributed to the creation of a nation ripe for distrust in the government.
“The wealthy and powerful in America are broadly unwilling to pay the taxes, invest in the public services, or create the avenues for vertical mobility that would lessen their country’s economic, educational, racial and geographic gaps. The more an under-resourced government can’t solve everyday problems, the more people give up on it, and the more they turn to their own resources and their narrow identity groups for safety.”
The combination of rapid changes to the economy, to social mores, and in demographics, coupled with a government financially constrained to provide services for its neediest creates a perfect environment for distrust in the government, according to Homer-Dixon.
He believes the Republican party has capitalized and fanned these insecurities to gain political power at the expense of democracy.
Homer-Dixon points to Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen as a “potent anti-democratic poison.” By making the embrace of the so-called "Big Lie" a “litmus test of Republican loyalty,” the party is now “one step away from the psychological dynamic of extreme dehumanization that has led to some of the worst violence in human history.”
The “win at all costs” mentality that engulfs the Republican party, according to Homer-Dixon, is fueled by “a moral crusade against evil” as Democrats purportedly stealing elections makes the latter deserving of punishment or worse.
A second Trump presidency could lead America from a Democracy to a far-right dictatorship, Homer-Dixon fears.
When the academic asked other political experts what a second Trump presidency could accomplish,“all agreed that under a second Trump administration, liberalism will be marginalized and right-wing Christian groups super-empowered, while violence by vigilante, paramilitary groups will rise sharply.”
He describes five similarities between the current political climate in the United States and that of 1920s- and 1930s-era Germany on the eve of the Nazi party’s power grab.
“First, in both cases, a charismatic leader was able to unify right-wing extremists around a political program to seize the state. Second, a bald falsehood about how enemies inside the polity had betrayed the country – for the Nazis, the 'stab in the back,' and for Trumpists, the ‘Big Lie’ – was a vital psychological tool for radicalizing and mobilizing followers. Third, conventional conservatives believed they could control and channel the charismatic leader and rising extremism but were ultimately routed by the forces they helped unleash. Fourth, ideological opponents of this rising extremism squabbled among themselves; they didn’t take the threat seriously enough,…the fifth parallel is the most disconcerting: the propagation of a ‘hardline security doctrine,’” Homer-Dixon writes.
The opinion piece further offers advice on how Canada, America’s northern neighbor, should prepare for the possibility of the collapse of US democracy and the rise of a right-wing dictatorship.