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America’s Coming Age of Instability

Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way, writing in Foreign Affairs:

“The United States appears headed toward endemic regime instability. Such a scenario would be marked by frequent constitutional crises, including contested or stolen elections and severe conflict between presidents and Congress (such as impeachments and executive efforts to bypass Congress), the judiciary (such as efforts to purge or pack the courts), and state governments (such as intense battles over voting rights and the administration of elections).”

“The United States would likely shift back and forth between periods of dysfunctional democracy and periods of competitive authoritarian rule during which incumbents abuse state power, tolerate or encourage violent extremism, and tilt the electoral playing field against their rivals.”

“In this sense, American politics may come to resemble not Russia but its neighbor Ukraine, which has oscillated for decades between democracy and competitive authoritarianism, depending on which partisan forces controlled the executive. For the foreseeable future, U.S. presidential elections will involve not simply a choice between competing sets of policies but rather a more fundamental choice over whether the country will be democratic or authoritarian.”

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