The Authoritarian Playbook in the United States

Recent years have seen a rise in authoritarian tendencies within the U.S. Let's explore the authoritarian playbook that has been observed in the United States.


2/26/20242 min read

the authoritarian playbook
the authoritarian playbook

Authoritarianism, is a political system characterized by the concentration of power in the hands of a single leader or ruling party. It has been a topic of concern in various parts of the world. While the United States has long prided itself on its democratic values and institutions, recent years have seen a rise in authoritarian tendencies within the country. This article explores the authoritarian playbook that has been observed in the United States.

Undermining Checks and Balances

One of the key strategies employed by those seeking to consolidate power is undermining the checks and balances system. This involves attacking and weakening the institutions that are designed to provide oversight and prevent the abuse of power. In the United States, we have witnessed attempts to undermine the independence of the judiciary, the free press, and other institutions that serve as a check on executive power.

Cultivating a Cult of Personality

Authoritarian leaders often cultivate a cult of personality, seeking to create an image of themselves as strong, infallible, and indispensable. They do this through propaganda, controlling the media narrative, and suppressing dissenting voices. This tactic has been observed in the United States, with the elevation of certain leaders to near-mythical status and the demonization of critics and political opponents.

Polarization and Divisiveness

Dividing society along ideological and partisan lines is another tactic employed by authoritarian leaders. By fostering polarization and stoking fear and resentment, they can consolidate their base of support and marginalize dissenting voices. In the United States, we have seen an increase in political polarization, with rhetoric and policies that further entrench divisions within society.

Attacking the Free Press

A free and independent press is a cornerstone of any democracy. It serves as a watchdog, holding those in power accountable. Authoritarian leaders often seek to undermine the credibility of the press by labeling it as "fake news" or "the enemy of the people." This tactic has been employed in the United States. It is eroding trust in the media and undermining the public's access to accurate and reliable information.

Suppressing Dissent

Authoritarian regimes often suppress dissent by targeting activists, journalists, and political opponents. This can be done through legal means, such as passing restrictive laws, or through intimidation and violence. In the United States, we have seen instances of government surveillance, harassment of journalists, and attempts to limit the right to protest, raising concerns about the erosion of democratic freedoms.

Undermining Electoral Integrity

Another tactic employed by authoritarian leaders is undermining the integrity of elections. This can involve voter suppression, gerrymandering, or spreading disinformation to manipulate public opinion. In the United States, there have been concerns about voter suppression efforts, foreign interference in elections, and attempts to undermine confidence in the electoral process.

Consolidating Power through Fear

Authoritarian leaders often exploit fear and insecurity to consolidate their power. They present themselves as the only ones capable of protecting the nation from perceived threats, whether real or manufactured. In the United States, we have seen the use of fear-based rhetoric and policies to justify the expansion of executive power and the erosion of civil liberties.

Cause For Concern

While the United States has a robust democratic system, it is not immune to the tactics employed by authoritarian leaders. We have seen these tactics used primarily by the Republican Party. The erosion of democratic norms and institutions should be a cause for concern. It threatens the very foundations of a free and open society. Recognizing and understanding the authoritarian playbook is crucial in order to safeguard our democratic values and ensure a more inclusive and equitable future.