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Professor David Driesen: This Election is About the Survival of American Democracy

Posted on Thursday 7/23/2020
David Driesen

(syracuse.com | July 23, 2020) The media often treat the upcoming election as a normal political battle about policy. I teach constitutional law and do not think of this presidential or congressional election in such narrow terms. And my colleagues on both the left and the right who teach constitutional law do not see it that way, either.

To explain this, I start with a point that all voters might agree to: President Donald Trump is extremely divisive. He tweets out vicious insults aimed at political opponents and members of his own party who displease him in some way. He even characterized the Democrats’ criticism of his handling of the coronavirus, which he consistently downplayed, as a “hoax.”

No American president behaves this way. Presidents aim to unite the country and generally do not descend to using personal insults.

Many people who Trump openly admires — such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — use attacks and insults as a major governing tool. All of these leaders have one thing in common. They have all dismantled democracies to establish autocracies, not through a sudden coup, but by using attacks on individuals and institutions to destroy checks and balances over several years …

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