How Democracies Die review – the secret of Trump’s success

Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have written a fascinating – and alarming – account of how the US shook off its democratic safeguards and gave the world Donald Trump

History, the surprisingly fashionable Alexander Hamilton remarked in 1787, teaches that men who overthrow republics begin “by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues and ending tyrants”.

In other words, dictators do not always arrive at the head of columns of troops. When they seize the television stations, they do not send in soldiers but party loyalists who promise to end “fake news”. They do not need to imprison judges, just pack their courts and rewrite the constitution to make opposition impossible. They win democratic elections, then dismantle democracy.

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