Trump's Road to Autocracy: The Test of American Democracy

Examining Worldwide Trends in Authoritarian Leadership Styles

by Zain ul Abedin
Trump's Road to Autocracy: The Test of American Democracy
© David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

The prospect of Donald Trump's re-election in the 2024 Presidential race presents a critical juncture in American history that may be as consequential as the elections during Abraham Lincoln's era. The 2024 election looms large, potentially redefining the nation's democratic principles, which have been the bedrock of American governance for over 250 years.

A concerning alignment with global trends toward authoritarianism marks the Trump era. His administration's actions, echoing anti-democratic sentiments seen worldwide, raise alarms about the erosion of democratic norms. Trump's approach aligns with a global shift towards illiberal governance, seen in various forms across different nations, each grappling with the tension between democratic and autocratic governance styles, often underpinned by nationalist and populist ideologies.

Global Authoritarian Shift

The international landscape is replete with leaders who mirror Trump's style. In Russia, Putin's actions in Ukraine signal a move towards imperial ambitions. Brazil's Bolsonaro, an ally of Trump, rode a wave of anti-corruption sentiment to power, only to be narrowly defeated in a recent election.

Argentina's Milei breaks political norms with libertarian promises. In the Netherlands, Wilders' election reflects a surge in anti-immigrant sentiment. These global parallels underscore the shift towards a world increasingly leaning towards autocratic governance.

In the U.S., Trump's influence has transformed the Republican Party, tapping into grievances and conspiracy theories among his supporters. His rhetoric and actions draw disturbing parallels to historical authoritarian figures like Hitler and Mussolini, with their oppressive ideologies and cults of personality.

Democracy's Imminent Challenge

Trump's agenda, including overturning Obamacare and banning Muslims, coupled with his mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, paints a concerning picture of his leadership. His actions, as detailed in reports like Mueller's and reflections in publications like The Atlantic, reveal attempts to overstep legal boundaries, pointing to a potential further erosion of democratic principles should he return to power.

Looking ahead to the 2024 election, Trump and his supporters, including figures like House Speaker Mike Johnson, are promoting a return to a divisive and exclusionary past. This movement, coupled with Trump's enduring influence over the Republican Party, poses a stark challenge to the democratic fabric of the nation.

The concern extends beyond political machinations to Trump's mental health, with professionals raising alarms about his stability. As the nation approaches the election, the need for critical scrutiny of Trump's candidacy and its implications for American democracy has never been more urgent.

The path ahead is fraught with potential challenges to the nation's core democratic values, making the 2024 election a pivotal moment in American history.