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'It’s pretty much inevitable' Trump will try to overthrow democracy: Historian

Author and historian Timothy Snyder said we have to stop assuming the Cold War was the last bad thing that could happen.
President Donald J. Trump
Trump has called the media an "enemy of the people," signalling to some that he could deal a blow to democracy. Photo: Reuters

Americans still have the right to protest, as evidenced by Monday’s May Day rallies across the country, but a professor of history at Yale University wrote a new book to help the masses fight back against what he calls “the totalitarianism of the 20th century.”

And by “totalitarianism of the 20th century,” Timothy Snyder, author of “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century,” means President Trump.

Salon’s Chauncy DeVega asked Snyder if he believes Trump will take full control of the government by declaring a state of emergency.

According to Snyder, it is “inevitable.”

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“Let me make just two points,” Snyder said. “The first is that I think it’s pretty much inevitable that they will try. The reason I think that is that the conventional ways of being popular are not working out for them. The conventional way to be popular or to be legitimate in this country is to have some policies, to grow your popularity ratings and to win some elections.”

He continued: “Whether it works or not depends upon whether, when something terrible happens to this country, we are aware that the main significance of it is whether or not we are going to be more or less free citizens in the future.”

How much time does American democracy have left?

“Nobody can be sure how long this particular regime change with Trump will take, but there is a clock, and the clock really is ticking,” Snyder warned. "In January 2018, we will probably have a pretty good idea which way this thing is going.”

Snyder said that by not resisting every day, the chances of the average citizen doing something grow smaller. Snyder suggested that obeying in advance makes the little things seem OK.

“If you can manage that, then the other lessons — such as supporting existing political and social institutions, supporting the truth and so on — those things will then come relatively easily if you can follow the first one, which is to get out of the drift, to recognize that this is the moment where you have to not behave as you did in October 2016,” he told Salon. “You have to set your own habits now."

Listen to the full interview on The Chauncey DeVega Show podcast.

 
 
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