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What will life under a Trump autocracy be like?

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All indications are that the GOP and the American people are prepared to collude in the transformation to an authoritarian regime, meaning we will be living in a Trump dictatorship, if we haven't already crossed over. So what will that be like? We will have to accept it and make a decision about where we live and how we live.

For most people, every day life will not be that different. Dystopian nightmares come to mind whenever we think about authoritarian regimes, but walking the streets of modern authoritarian states one will see people going about their business as they always have. There are still movies and work and school and shopping. It's mostly boring and tolerable. According to writer G. Willow Wilson:

The difference is the steady disappearance of dissent from the public sphere. Anti-regime bloggers disappear. Dissident political parties are declared “illegal.” Certain books vanish from the libraries.

In Hungary for example:

The transition has been nonviolent, often not even very dramatic. Opponents of the regime are not murdered or imprisoned, although many are harassed with building inspections and tax audits. If they work for the government, or for a company susceptible to government pressure, they risk their jobs by speaking out. Nonetheless, they are free to emigrate anytime they like. Those with money can even take it with them. Day in and day out, the regime works more through inducements than through intimidation. The courts are packed, and forgiving of the regime’s allies. Friends of the government win state contracts at high prices and borrow on easy terms from the central bank. Those on the inside grow rich by favoritism; those on the outside suffer from the general deterioration of the economy. As one shrewd observer told me on a recent visit, “The benefit of controlling a modern state is less the power to persecute the innocent, more the power to protect the guilty.”
- How to Build an Autocracy - The Atlantic 
In a Trump authoritarian regime, for many people, life will go on without much change. Obviously things will get worse for some people, particularly those that have already suffered, such as people of color, women, and immigrants.

Elections won't matter. One could argue that elections haven't mattered for a long time, but in a Trump dictatorship dynasty, they really won't matter. All the power will be centralized in the Trump crime family. There will likely be the appearance of elections but somehow, just like with Putin, Trump always wins in a landslide.

If we look at the recent developments with the impeachment inquiry and the Trump camp's response, they are simply ignoring more and more laws and norms. Their defense is to simply break more laws in the open on live TV in an attempt to normalize it. This is exactly what dictators do.

If this were happening in Honduras, we’d know what to call it. It’s happening here instead, and so we are baffled.

The Trump supporters will be happy with all this, at least until the policies and deficits start to hit them directly, or when they run out of people to blame their plight on. Trump will certainly continue to use fear, the bible, and find scapegoats in attempt to maintain their support, and he may keep their support for many years.

Americans need not look far to see what this kind of boring authoritarianism looks like. As University of Michigan political scientist Robert Mickey has argued, swaths of the US South were effectively under one-party rule during parts of the 20th century.
- Life in authoritarian states is mostly boring and tolerable, Vox
I've accepted that Trump is winning. He controls the military and A.G. Barr controls all law enforcement. What else does he need? He and is legal team are making the case that the law doesn't apply to him. Who is going to stop him? There aren't 20 republican senators with the courage or morals to convict him. They have already said they will settle the impeachment by Christmas in time for the republican primaries, business as usual. They already know how they're going to vote, regardless of the evidence presented at trial.

It is happening here. Make peace with it. 


It's a good time to review this: How to Survive an Authoritarian Government which contains this list:


  1. Assume all communications and activities are monitored.
  2. Do not trust any information released by the government.
  3. Support the production and dissemination of independent media.
  4. Move banned activities and observances underground.
  5. If necessary, change your identity.
  6. If you are able, shield those more vulnerable than yourself.
  7. Have a hiding place or escape plan ready.
  8. Make room for culture, even in dark times.
  9. Support labor unions and work stoppages.
  10. Keep the spirit of resistance alive and never lose hope.

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