America’s Next Authoritarian Will Be Much More Competent
We’re not out of the woods yet:
From an international perspective, though, Trump is just one more example of the many populists on the right who have risen to power around the world: Narendra Modi in India, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Jarosław Kaczyński in Poland, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, my home country. These people win elections but subvert democratic norms: by criminalizing dissent, suppressing or demonizing the media, harassing the opposition, and deploying extra-legal mechanisms whenever possible (Putin’s opponents have a penchant for meeting tragic accidents). Orbán proudly uses the phrase illiberal democracy to describe the populism practiced by these men; Trump has many similarities to them, both rhetorically and policy-wise.
But there’s one key difference between Trump and everyone else on that list. The others are all talented politicians who win elections again and again.
Luck aside, though, Trump is not good at his job. He doesn’t even seem to like it much. He is too undisciplined and thin-skinned to be effective at politics over a sustained period, which involves winning repeated elections.
Trump ran like a populist, but he lacked the political talent or competence to govern like an effective one.
The situation is a perfect setup, in other words, for a talented politician to run on Trumpism in 2024. A person without the eager Twitter fingers and greedy hotel chains, someone with a penchant for governing rather than golf. […] A norm-subverting strongman who can create a durable majority and keep his coalition together to win more elections.
Tufekci doesn’t mention that Trump wasn’t just bad at governing. He was bad at being an authoritarian. He knew he wanted to rule without constraints, but he didn’t know enough about government to go about making it happen. In the Ukraine fiasco, the existence of Inspector Generals caught him by surprise. The next strongman will know enough to neutralize them first.