Trump is behaving like Mussolini and despots that the US usually condemns.
President Donald Trump is refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, threatening to shatter a tradition that lies at the heart of the democratic process in the US. There are serious concerns among scholars that Trump is putting America’s democracy in mortal danger. Combined with Trump’s relentless disinformation campaign, celebration of violence against journalists, and incitement of armed militias, historians and election experts warn that the president is mirroring the behavior of despots that the US generally leads the way in condemning before the world.
When asked whether he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power earlier this week, Trump suggested ballots would be thrown away.
“We’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump said when asked whether he would accept the final results of the election. “Get rid of the ballots and…there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.” Trump has given the country myriad signs that he will not concede under any circumstances, placing the US on the precipice of a political crisis the likes of which it has never experienced before. The president has repeatedly pushed the bogus assertion that the expanded access to mail-in voting for the 2020 election — a move designed to protect vulnerable people amid a pandemic — will lead to widespread voter fraud.
Top experts on democracy have been warning for years that Trump exhibits authoritarian tendencies. But their consternation appears to have ramped up significantly as Election Day draws closer and Trump essentially signals that he plans to do whatever it takes to stay in power. The clearest parallel is that Mussolini was prime minister of a democratic coalition government from 1922-1925. During that time, he slowly chipped away at democratic institutions, insulting the press, using violence against the left, joking that he would be in office for 20 years, establishing a militia and a legislative body (the Grand Council) loyal to him. Trump has spent the past four years eroding democratic norms and institutions at an astonishing rate.
This is the way dictators come to power.