The change from democracy to authoritarianism is subtle and slow – a gradual hollowing out of democracy.
The people in power have the following characteristics:
- Narcissism – have an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves
- Lie repeatedly – mislead their followers with lies and continue to repeat the same lies; deny facts and blatantly lie
- Value loyalty over competence – hire people who are completely loyal to them (“yes men”) and fire those who are not
- Misuse power – use their power for personal gain
- Divisive – work to divide people; build distrust of the other side; erode faith in institutions
- Corrupt – have a willingness to act dishonestly in return for personal gain
- Court dictators – connect with other authoritarian leaders
- Rewrite history to suit their needs and use the education system to support their agenda
- Defy laws and claim executive privilege; pack the courts
- Leaders come to power with a campaign based on fear, scaremongering and distorting the truth. They make up charges against those who are running against them.
- The leaders and their followers find ways to rig the election in their favor while sustaining a veneer of competitive balloting.
- Various forms of voter suppression are put in place to make it harder for groups of people who are against the leader to vote.
- If the leaders lose they proclaim the election was rigged.
- People who are “different” from the leaders – ethnic or religious minorities, LGBTQ individuals, immigrants, women – are persecuted.
- People lose the right to assemble and are not allowed to gather in groups.
- Terrorist or international incidents are used as a reason to take away civil liberties.
- People are punished for taking a stand against the government.
- Political opponents are put under government surveillance.
- Borders are sealed.
- Leaders and their followers take control of major news sources.
- Fake storylines are created. Propaganda is used to undermine truth.
- Extremist content is repeated and emulated.
- Mainstream media is intimidated, delegitimized and controlled. Press freedoms are limited; journalists are threatened or detained.
- Violence is encouraged and condoned.
- Efforts are made to create chaos, increase our fears, maintain a constant sense of conflict and danger.