Experts in authoritarianism say Trump’s agenda has settled. And it’s scary.

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tags: authoritarianism, Trump



The Trump administration's agenda has started to solidify a month and a half after his inauguration. ThinkProgress checked in with scholars on authoritarianism to see how that agenda it’s taking shape. For people who have devoted their lives to studying anti-democratic movements, recent White House actions are more disturbing than ever.

On Trump’s claim that Obama wiretapped his phones before the election:

Sheri Berman, a political scientist at Barnard College: Each time the claims get more and more outrageous, and this one is particularly interesting because he’s also pitted different branches of government against each other. It’s not possible for Obama to have done this, and the FBI came out and said this is something we need to discuss, this is problematic and didn't happen.

So parts of right wing media and — even non-fringe parts —[reporting as if it were true] is a sign that this kind of rhetoric and behavior is fragmenting our ability to get information, and to come to some kind of consensus about what’s going on. Presumably, what he’s trying to do is distract us from Russia stuff by creating an alternative universe and enabling supporters and backers to ensconce themselves further.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University: This Administration is in panic mode, on the defensive, due to the unfolding Russia story… As I’ve written before, when authoritarians feel their backs against the wall is when they become aggressive: it’s the danger zone. We can watch out for executive actions bent on self-protection, as well as aggressions towards the bureaucracy, judiciary and press.

Trump’s language has spread not just to the media, but to supporters in politics. Take a recent tweet from Rep. Steve King (R-IA) where he claimed leakers needed to be ‘purged.’ ...




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