In his keynote commentary for The Atlantic October Issue , “Is Democracy Dying”
Staff Writer David Frum sets an ominous frame:
“The bulk of this magazine issue is given over to questions about liberal democracy’s long-term viability. Around the world, democracy looks more fragile than it has since the Cold War.”
Frum then gets specific America’s Slide Toward Autocracy” ,first, on ” the good news” — firm federal law enforcement; encouraging court cases, Trump’s constraining unpopularity; and the strong economy.
He then summarizes the three areas that are his most imminent concern: Ethics. Subordination of State to Leader, and Alternative Facts.
Frum doesn’t significantly address perhaps the greatest imminent concern for many Americans — the outcome of the Mueller investigation. What turmoil may await us regardless of its findings ad recommendations?
Nevertheless, Frum makes some alarming observations:
“Should Democrats recover some measure of power in Congress, their gains could perversely accelerate current trends. As Republicans lose power in Washington, Trump will gain power within his party… congressional Republicans’ clout will dwindle. Power will be divided between Trump and Democrats … If legislative success becomes a vanishing possibility, the White House may begin testing the limits of authority more aggressively.”
“Free societies depend on a broad agreement to respect the rules of the game. If a decisive minority rejects those rules, then that country is headed for a convulsion …
“Once violated, democratic norms are not easy to restore.”
Fortunately, Frum concludes on a challenging yet hopeful note:
“Restoring democracy will require more from each of us than the casting of a single election ballot. It will demand a sustained commitment to renew American institutions, reinvigorate common citizenship, and expand national prosperity.
“The road to autocracy is long – which means that we still have time to halt and turn back. It also means that the longer we wait, the farther we must travel to return home.’