Is America the Next Venezuela? Essay on Trump Government

Venezuela, Turkey, and Hungary, all once democratic nations that have turned into anti-democracies, is America is next to succumb to the frightening clutch of autocratic government?  With the 2016 election of Donald Trump, the United States has been feeling more and more like falling into an anti-democracy. Conflict and divide has pervaded this country and Trump has been acting like an autocrat in a US president disguise. An anti-democratic country is defined by a country in conflict with the principles of democracy, a definition that applies to over 60 countries in the world.

But the majority of countries apply to the democratic definition of a country, in that they are a system of government where all people are eligible to be members of state. The vast majority of these democratic countries follow the rule of law and give freedoms to their people like freedom of speech and religion. America falls into the latter category at this point of time, but is threatening to jump the gap to the first group of anti-democracies. Since being elected in 2016, Trump has broken a democratic principle of rule of law and has used the autocratic term “enemy of the people” regularly, these actions sending American spiraling into an anti-democratic country. 

During the span of his current presidency, Trump has blatantly violated the democratic principle of Rule of Law, showing that we could be moving towards anti-democracy.  The rule of  was first introduced by the Magna Carta way back in 1215 England and has become a basic pillar of democracy.. Robert Reich writes that the Rule of Law is broken into three principles, each of which Trump has violated. The three principles are nobody is above the law, the president cannot prosecute political opponents, and the president must be respectful of judiciary actions (Reich). Reich writes that Trump has broken up criminal investigations, violating that no one is above the law. Reich also writes that Trump has campaigned to prosecute political rival Hillary Clinton, breaking the second principle. Thirdly, Trump has heavily criticized the judicial branch and the Supreme Court, breaching the third of the principles (Reich).

The abundance of disregard Trump has for the Rule of Law is frightening as the Rule of Law is something U.S. presidents are expected to obey. Reich writes, “The ‘rule of law’ is what separates democracies from dictatorships,” showing that, with Trump throwing Rule of Law out the window, America moves closer to an anti-democracy, closer than the U.S. has ever have been. Liam Brennan writes that the president disrespecting the Rule of Law adds a another argument point for supporters of impeachment. But for now, Trump and his opposal of the rule of law reveals the autocratic mind of our president and displays how anti-democracy is not far away.

With the usage of the term “enemy of the people”, Trump using the it adds him to a list of autocratic dictators who used the same term creating worry that we could soon be under autocratic rule ourselves. As Veronika Bondarenko states, the people who have used the term enemy of the people, including Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, the nazis, and Vladimir Lenin, are responsible for the killing of over 125 million people. Every one of those leaders were dictators leading anti-democratic nations (Bondarenko). Rod Dreher writes about saying the term, “Americans don’t talk like this. Nazis do. Communists — Russian, Chinese, and all kinds — talk like this,” (Dreher). Dreher writes that this language from the president could cause violence, as a Republican Headquarters in Volusia was found shot out and police say it was politically motivated, most likely due to Trump actions. This is eye-opening but understandable as the public is hearing language from the president associated with violence, killing, and anti-democracy. If Trump is fine with using the language of autocrats, what autocratic characteristics will he pull out next. This talk could serve as a warning sign for a shift of governmental ideals in the United States and could cause violence and disorder in America.

On the other hand, people who think that our democracy is safe from any anti-democratic shifts argue that we have one of the strongest democratic governments that hasn’t failed in many dire situations. This country has seen its fair share of conflict and chaos like the civil war, depression, and presidential scandals, but the American democracy has always held his own through all the bumps. This has made the U.S. one of the strongest if not the strongest democracy in the world. Taking it down would be extremely hard especially considering the three-branched government we have specifically to prevent this from happening. Daniel Treisman writes that no democracy has ever failed with the average income for citizens per capita is above 22,000 or having 65 years of survival under its belt.

These are two boxes that the U.S. checks. Models using income levels, growth rates, neighboring democracies, and past history conclude that the U.S. has a 0.03% chance of democratic breakdown (Triesman). Triesman writes that this shows just how unlikely a future anti-democratic government is and how no democracy has never failed with a such a low chance before. America’s democratic government has survived the Civil War, where the government had a 4% chance of democratic breakdown (Triesman). 4% might not seem like a lot but it is over 125 times more likely than today. Although all this may all be true, during times like the great depression and civil war we had highly democratic leaders in Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, that is not the case here. We have never had a president act and speak the way Trump has and many people believe that this is the lowest point in the history of America, therefore anti-democratic government is still closer than ever to the U.S. 

Since being elected in 2016, Trump has broken a democratic principle of rule of law and has used the autocratic term “enemy of the people” regularly, these actions sending American spiraling into an anti-democratic country. This is number one problem facing America because the very principle that the founders of this country built it on is in danger. Once a nation flips to anti-democratic it is very hard to reverse back. Donald Trump speaking and acting autocratically could just be the start to a gradual increase of anti-democracy in Washington. Terms like enemy of the people sound, look, and feel autocratic, an aura that should not be given off by a U.S. president. Trump breaking a elementary democratic fundamental is atrocious in one of the strongest democracies that has never had its ideals tested as much as now. The U.S. democracy is in grave danger. With a autocratic-minded leader at the helm, we are living at the start of the end of the democracy of the United States.



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