Lessons on how to beat back authoritarianism from abroad
My note: I am not ready to count DeSantis out. From my Florida pew I see him as mean, and dangerous, However most of all, I see him as power hungry awash in cash; willing to do anything to secure the nomination and be president. A volatile combination. A committed liar and a fascist - Is the Republican party so devoid of leadership that Trump and DeSantis are it's best candidates?
Below is the opening from a very long article on authoritarianism with points of hope that freedom can prevail. Political junkies like myself will find this article informative. The upcoming election of 2024 will be the defining moment for America going forward.
Story by Maria J. Stephan
Florida has become the epicenter of a struggle between authoritarianism and those committed to freedom and justice for all. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 election, actively campaigned for election deniers, embraced divide-and-rule politics, and enacted extreme policies that gut fundamental freedoms enshrined in Florida's and the US Constitution. These policies, grounded in racial resentment, misogyny, homophobia, and the punishment of opponents using state power, come straight from the global authoritarian playbook and are already spreading from Florida to other state legislatures across the country. Attacks on fundamental rights and freedoms are only likely to accelerate should DeSantis' clear 2024 presidential ambitions be realized.
But Floridians are not sitting idly by.
Daily walkouts, sit-ins, marches and teach-ins led by students, teachers, parents, and other civic groups are happening across the state. People are sounding the alarm about the existential threat to US democracy DeSantis represents, while mobilizing around an alternative vision of a Florida for all. Stopping DeSantis' march to the White House will take a united democratic front of movements, labor organizers, business and faith leaders, veterans' groups, and exile communities both inside Florida and across state borders. Beyond that, addressing the deeper roots of authoritarianism in America will require an even bigger and bolder movement that makes the triumph of a pluralistic, multi-racial democracy a generational achievement.
Part I: [Understanding] The Authoritarian Playbook
Twenty-first-century authoritarian leaders follow a similar playbook: build power by demonizing the "other," then use that power to punish any opposition and cut off any ways of threatening their power, typically by undermining elections, capturing democratic institutions, and neutralizing dissent.
Finally, there is a need for national coordination and cross-state democratic solidarity to direct resources and technical support to those on the front lines. Such efforts should prioritize service to local and state-led organizers who know how to navigate the complex communities in Florida and other states facing the most severe forms of authoritarianism. Meanwhile, given the extent of transnational authoritarian learning, with Florida being a hotbed of far-right collaboration (including related to the January 9th insurrection in Brazil led by disgruntled Bolsonaro supporters, many of whom were camped out in FL), supporting cross-border learning, skills-sharing, and solidarity between pro-democracy actors in Florida and other countries would be a worthwhile investment.
Challenging DeSantis and his authoritarian enablers will not be easy, given the level of resources at their disposal and the deep roots of authoritarianism in the country. Yet there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful that the forces of freedom will prevail. Strengthening the connective tissue between movements and key pillars inside Florida, while bolstering pro-democratic solidarity across state borders, is the best way to prevent another autocrat from entering the White House while advancing the goal of a genuinely multi-racial American democracy.
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