New charges against Trump focus on lies. Scholars see an authoritarian playbook

The latest federal case against Donald Trump is shedding light on how his presidency utilized false and baseless claims, with some scholars identifying parallels with historical authoritarian figures.

The backdrop: The indictment implies that Trump and his co-conspirators allegedly used lies with the criminal intention of overturning the results of the 2020 election.
* This examination of how speech was used to support an apparent conspiracy to unlawfully maintain power is seen by some scholars as placing Trump into broader historical patterns.

Scholarly viewpoint: Professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat, an expert on authoritarian leaders, highlights the recurring theme of personality cults in such regimes.
* She noted that Trump’s tactic of casting himself as the sole solution to national issues and his penchant for fostering distrust in alternate authorities, including the press, are common strategies amongst past and current authoritarian leaders.

Authoritarian tendencies: According to Jason Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale University, Trump’s insistence on personal loyalty over the rule of law is another characteristic common in authoritarian takeovers.
* Stanley suggests the new case could offer fresh insight into the mechanics behind a significant shift in American culture and society.

Effects on democracy: This case notably brings into focus how lies can erode democracy by undermining trust in its institutions and laws, which are vital for stability.

View original article on NPR

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