Politics and civics

Democratic institutions could collapse if Trump returns to the White House

“Victor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary, very tough man, probably the toughest guy there is, frankly toughest in Europe, a lot of people don’t like him because he’s tough, he says,” GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump told supporters in Ohio, earlier this month.

The Republican Party has embraced Orbán, inviting him to speak at the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, for example.

Orbán first served as prime minister from 1998 to 2002. After losing his re-election bid… [he won] the 2010 election. He had a two-thirds majority in parliament, enabling him to change the constitution several times to carry out his full vision for Hungary.

He’s still PM. Fourteen years later. And Trump adores him. In Rome, Georgia, earlier in March, Trump told supporters:

I had dinner last night with a great gentleman from Hungary, Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban. Very, very tough…he said, “The problem with America is they need Trump back as president. When Trump was president, there were none of these problems. Israel wouldn’t have been attacked. Ukraine and Russia wouldn’t be fighting (emphasis added)” …*

Trump admires authoritarians, which is nothing new. Yet back in January, Turkish journalist Aslı Aydıntaşbaş claimed “another four years of Trump is not enough time to turn America into a dictatorship.”

Today, Brynn Tannehill, technical analyst with RAND^, used Twitter to rebut that claim, one penetrable guardrail at a time.

Tannehill referred to a 2016 New York Review of Books essay where Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen warned:
Trump [was] only the fourth candidate in history and the second in more than a century to win the presidency after losing the popular vote. He is also probably the first candidate in history to win the presidency despite having been shown repeatedly by the national media to be a chronic liar, sexual predator, serial tax-avoider, and race-baiter who has attracted the likes of the Ku Klux Klan. Most important, Trump is the first candidate in memory who ran not for president but for autocrat—and won (emphasis added).

(Putin has issued an arrest warrant for Gessen.)

Tannehill then continued:


Read the tweets-as-essay on ThreadReader or here as a PDF.




* Trump moved directly into this word salad:

… I knew Putin. I know him very well. No way he was going in. No way Putin was going in. Putin would have gone in under any circumstances, but then they gave him added incentive. The things Biden said were the exact opposite things. I said, “He’s going to talk this guy into going in.” You listen to the way he talked. He had no idea what he was doing (emphasis added to illustrate the rhetorical 180º-flip)

^ RAND is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization formed after World War II. RAND is “a contraction of the term research and development.”



“Not the odds, but the stakes.” That’s how Jay Rosen, NYU journalism professor and media critic, thinks news organizations should be covering the 2024 presidential election.

The stakes, of course, mean the stakes for American democracy,” Rosen told Oliver Darcy, CNN, last year. “The stakes are what might happen as a result of the election.” Rosen continued: “The horse race [odds] should not be the model… It should not be the organizing principle of your campaign coverage.”

In that spirit, I plan periodic reports focused on the stakes facing voters in this presidential election.

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” oprah winfrey 

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