The Atlantic

America’s Slide Toward Autocracy

Democracy has taken a beating under President Trump. Will the midterms make a difference?
Source: Tyler Comrie

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series that attempts to answer the question: Is democracy dying?

Twenty-one months into the Trump presidency, how far has the country rolled down the road to autocracy? It’s been such a distracting drive—so many crazy moments!—who can keep an eye on the odometer?

Yet measuring the distance traveled is vital. As Abraham Lincoln superbly said in his “house divided” speech: “If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.”

Let’s start with the good news: Against the Trump presidency, federal law enforcement has held firm. As of this writing, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry is proceeding despite the president’s fulminations. The Department of Justice is ignoring the president’s Twitter demands to prosecute his opponents. As far as we know, the IRS and other federal agencies are not harassing Trump critics. In July, a police department in Ohio retaliated against a Trump adversary, the porn actress known as Stormy Daniels, by arresting her on now-dismissed charges that she touched undercover officers while performing at a strip club. But evidence indicates that this was entirely a local initiative.

Trump sometimes wins in court, as he did on his Muslim ban. He loses more often, as he did on separating immigrant children from their parents at

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic6 min readPsychology
Dear Therapist: My Husband and I Don't Have Sex Anymore
The Atlantic6 min readPolitics
The Dirty Secret of Mueller’s Testimony? Voters Might Not Care.
Rather than expecting fireworks from the former special counsel’s appearance before Congress, many seem wary of getting their hopes up.
The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
The Stuff of Dystopian Nightmare