Should-Read: The very sharp Matthew Yglesias is extremely frightened about the future of America. I am not so frightened of Trump—I think that even if Republicans holding on to both houses of Congress we will get checks and balances working either through Amendment 25 or through the Justice Department and the New York Attorney General. The thing that scares me more is the next Trump, the competent Trump, the fascist playing on ethno-cultural resentments and fueled by plutocracy. As Karl Marx wrote in his appallingly sexist way of what he saw as a similar episode with the rise of Napoleon III back in 1850: "It is not enough to say, as the French do, that their nation was taken unawares. Nations and women are not forgiven the unguarded hour in which the first adventurer who came along could violate them..." The very sharp Charlie Stross proposes that advertising-supported internet and cable have hacked our brains in the pursuit of, as Zeynep Tufekci puts it, "a dystopia to get people to click on ads", and that we are hosed. I find myself searching for analogous hackings by print post-Gutenberg, by pamphlet and folio in the Enlightenment, by the first mass media in the age of adult male suffrage, and by radio in the age of Nuremberg rallies and fireside chats—and how the public sphere developed defense mechanisms. But I do not have any answers here: Matthew Yglesias: 2018 is the year that will decide if Trumpocracy replaces American democracy: "Loyalty to Donald Trump is the new principle of Republican Party politics...

...Trump’s most underappreciated political achievement... consolidation of power over a party to which he had scant personal or institutional ties.... All signs are that if Republicans win in 2018, slavish loyalty to Trump will only grow more ingrained... loyalty to him is the key to access, and access is the key to policy influence. In their new book How Democracies Die, Harvard political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt flag this as a key threat to democratic stability. Institutions don’t typically collapse under sudden attack. Rather:

if a charismatic outsider emerges on the scene, gaining popularity as he challenges the old order, it is tempting for establishment politicians who feel their control is unraveling to try to co-opt him.

From Mussolini to Hugo Chávez, authoritarians end up winning because these “fateful alliances” end up leading establishment politicians to collaborate with the demagogue not just on their points of policy agreement but on the demagogue’s desire to dismantle critical institutions. Public opinion polling suggests that the merged Trump-establishment party is hideously unpopular and headed for electoral defeat. If... Democrats gain control of at least one house... checks and balances will begin to operate.... But if Republicans manage to hold the majority, the Trumpocracy will be upon us...

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