The path backwards
The path to despotism in other countries seems unlikely here. America isn’t the Weimar Republic in 1932 or Italy in 1921. Each dictator is unique in the details of his rise. Hitler seized on pervasive anti-semitism and a deep sense of persecution at the hands of foreign powers. Mussolini similarly promised a restoration of Italian greatness that resonated with an emasculated population.
But there are broad similarities in how despots act. According to Harvard political scientist Stephen Walt, there are 10 Ways to Tell if Your President is a Dictator:
1) Systematic efforts to intimidate the media.
2) Building an official pro-Trump media network.
3) Politicizing the civil service, military, National Guard, or the domestic security agencies.
4) Using government surveillance against domestic political opponents.
5) Using state power to reward corporate backers and punish opponents.
6) Stacking the Supreme Court.
7) Enforcing the law for only one side.
8) Really rigging the system.
10) Demonizing the opposition.