4 votes

Democracy maybe?

1 comment

  1. Kuromantis

    Fewer than 10 percent of voters in our survey panel consistently support each of the authoritarian alternatives offered across surveys in 2017, 2018, and 2019. But many express support in at least one of the surveys. One in three says a “strong leader” is a good way to run a country at least once, and one in four does so for “army rule.”

    Thirteen percent of Americans say it would be a good thing for American military leaders to suspend elections, close down the legislature, and temporarily take charge of the government in order to address extreme corruption. Another 18 percent aren’t sure if it would be a good thing for the military to take such an action.

    Despite widespread support for checks and balances in the abstract, fewer than half of Americans object to the president acting unilaterally without constitutional authority or congressional approval when provided with each of four potential justifications for doing so. A plurality (41 percent) say it would be appropriate for a Democratic or Republican president to act unilaterally because “a large majority of the American people believe the president should act.”

    While strong majorities of Democrats and Republicans say there would be no justification for violence, about one in five of both groups say that violence would be at least “a little” justified if the other party wins the 2020 presidential election — including about one in 10 who says that there would be “a great deal” or “a lot” of justification for violence.

    This equates to tens of millions of people in a country of 225 million adults. Seen in this light, the spectacle of angry protesters, some of them heavily armed, pouring into the Michigan capitol and then later prompting the legislature to cancel its session becomes a warning sign.

    While the mixed picture of support for democracy versus equivocation and skepticism is reassuring in some respects and troubling in others, viewing these numbers in the current political context presents significant cause for concern.

    We are in a period of intense political polarization, with levels of political distrust and partisan enmity that rival anything we have experienced in recent memory. At the same time, the country faces its worst public health crisis in a century, its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and widespread protests of racial injustice. All of this is unfolding in an election year in which states are scrambling to expand their capacity to handle large numbers of mailed ballots, and partisan legal funds are growing in expectation of disputes about the election process and its outcomes.

    Put sharply, Americans’ commitment to the norms and institutions of democracy shows worrying signs of softness, equivocation, conditionality, or even defection at precisely the moment when our system of self-government most requires mutual restraint and unconditional support.

    We found the highest levels of support for authoritarian leadership come from those who are disaffected, disengaged from politics, deeply distrustful of experts, culturally conservative, and have negative attitudes toward racial minorities.

    3 votes