A foreign journalist’s warning about American authoritarianism
A Broken Man – won’t last long. By the end of 2022 we expect him to be in a nursing home.
(CLICK)For most Americans, having a president who poses a direct threat to democracy is uncharted, perilous territory. But it’s useful to remember that other societies have dealt with the same challenges in the recent past. To truly understand the gravity of the threat we face, it’s helpful to turn abroad — to talk to people who have seen democracy in their own country crumble.
Serbian journalist Stevan Dojčinović is just such a person. The editor-in-chief of the Crime and Corruption Reporting Network in Belgrade, he, along with his reporters, has doggedly documented corruption and lawlessness in the Serbian government — an elected regime that, according to international watchdogs, has worked hard to undermine the fairness of the political system and freedom of the press. Under the leadership of the right-wing populist Serbian Progressive Party, the country has fallen lower on one widely used ranking of democracy than neighboring Hungary.
The decline of democracy in Serbia is a bitter pill for people like Dojčinović to swallow, given that Serbia worked hard to build a real democracy after throwing off first a communist regime and then Slobodan Milosevic’s dictatorship in 2000.
“We were kind of building democracy for 12 years, and now we are in the process of going backward,” he tells me.
While America is not yet as bad off as Serbia, Dojčinović sees warning signs that America could go down the same road. In particular, he says, President Trump has the same willingness to abuse his position — cultivating a captive media, enriching himself and his family — that characterizes the current Serbian government.
For this reason, Dojčinović sees the Serbian experience as a warning for America: A second term could, in his view, prove catastrophic for American democracy. Populist authoritarians undermine democracy in an insidious way, dressing up attacks on the press and courts as what the people truly want. After reelection, they believe they have a freer hand.
“Mentally, for these guys, the second time they win is really important,” Dojčinović tells me. “Then they really feel kind of that they have a right to do some deep changes.”