January 30, 2024

Why Trump’s control of the Republican Party is bad for democracy

As former President Donald Trump edges closer to clinching the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, our political science research has shown that a second Trump presidency is likely to damage American democracy even more than his first term did. The reason has less to do with Trump and his ambitions than with how power dynamics have shifted within the Republican Party.

In our forthcoming book, “The Origins of Elected Strongmen: How Personalist Parties Destroy Democracy from Within,” we explain the dangers that arise when leaders come to power backed by political parties that exist primarily to promote the leader’s personal agenda, as opposed to advancing particular policies.

We have found that what matters for democracy is not so much the ambitions of power-hungry leaders, but rather whether those in their support group will tame them.

But so-called personalist parties, as political scientists like us call them, are a threat to democracy because they lack the incentives and ability to resist their leader’s efforts to amass more power.

From 1990 to 2020, in countries all over the world, elected leaders backed by personalist parties have gone on to undermine democracy from within. There are three reasons personalist parties are harmful to democracy, all of which have clear parallels to experiences with Trump and the Republican Party.

Read the full article from The Conversation.

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