This op-ed was written by Lee Drutman, senior fellow at New America, and Larry Diamond, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, and Joe Goldman, president of Democracy Fund, about their recent report, Follow the Leader: Exploring American Support for Democracy and Authoritarianism. You can read the full op-ed here.
In the past two years, a wave of distressing commentary has stressed the fragility of American democracy and the potential, inspired by President Trump, for emerging authoritarianism.
But a year into the Trump administration, Americans are rejecting authoritarian alternatives to democracy. In a new survey by the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, we found that the percentage of Americans who expressed support for a “strong leader who doesn’t have to bother with elections or Congress” fell to levels not seen since the mid-1990s. In particular, young people overwhelmingly reject authoritarian rule, despite concerns about a rising generation retreating from democracy (raised most prominently by Roberto Foa and Yascha Mounk).
Mr. Trump is almost certainly giving authoritarianism a bad name. Support for authoritarian rule declined most among Democrats and young people, while significantly increasing among Republicans.