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We Surveyed Experts on Democracy. They’re Worried About the U.S. Turning Even More Authoritarian.

See what has Sherrilyn Ifill, Mehdi Hasan, and others concerned

Mike Osborne

As Trump’s Big Lie festers among the Republican Party and political norms continue to erode, we at The New Republic are pretty concerned about the future of small “d” democracy, both in the U.S. and abroad. So we’ve started a series we’ve termed Democracy Watch, wherein we will regularly survey experts, writers, and generally interesting thinkers on a specific question about the state of democracy and what keeps them up at night. Read our inaugural edition to learn how worried you should be about the next half-decade.

This month’s question: On a scale of 1-10, how concerned are you that the U.S. will become more authoritarian over the next five years?

Sherrilyn Ifill
President of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

Every day the Senate fails to pass voting rights legislation pushes up the number for me. I’m somewhere around 6 or 7 right now. If by the end of January we don’t have passage of new voting rights legislation, I’m at 9.

Aziz Huq
University of Chicago Law School

8—Democracy’s losing both its popular and institutional supports: Republicans are unwilling to see electoral loss as explicable or acceptable; Democrats too splintered to advance even basic reforms. Up high, a conservative Supreme Court building tools to allow the reversal of electoral results. Combined, all this leaves few reasons for optimism.

Mehdi Hasan
MSNBC host

11 out of 10. One of our two major parties has given up on democracy and openly embraced voter suppression, partisan gerrymandering, and election subversion. Oh, and white supremacy, too. The result? We are in the midst of a slow-moving, rolling coup while the American polity heads in the direction of authoritarianism, if not full-blown fascism.

Rachel Kleinfeld
Senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

I am concerned about harm to liberal democracy at a 9. Particularly security institutions that lean towards one party or fail to enforce laws equally, which are pernicious. Far-right protests have become more violent in the U.S. in the last year—but police interventions have gone down. Meanwhile, homicide rose almost 30 percent. Internationally, greater violence often leads to demands for law and order, allowing a backlash of more authoritarian laws and enforcement.