According to the V-Dem research institute in Sweden, the GOP shares important characteristics with ruling parties of at least four “illiberal democracies”: Hungary, India, Poland, and Turkey. Liberal democracies limit the power of rulers and protect individual rights through rule of law and the practice of democratic norms by authoritative institutions. Illiberal democracies emerge when autocrats reach office through nominally democratic means and dismantle apolitical civil services, independent media, and impartial judiciaries. Conspiracy theories and disinformation fill the remaining epistemological void, violating shared norms for settling differences and rewriting the narratives about who we are as a nation.
The question has been asked before, in different contexts, but it persists: How did we get here?
In his analysis of European conservative parties in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Harvard political historian Daniel Ziblatt concludes that for democracy to survive, conservative parties must run effective campaigns in competitive elections.