American Autocracy

The late innings of Donald Trump’s four-year campaign in the White House come to look stranger than the big-league baseball season—both of which are in the deep shadow of the pandemic (13 St. Louis Cardinals tested positive this week). It’s the president who has to answer for a thousand COVID deaths a week in midsummer U.S.; China has next to none. Another president might wilt at the breaking of his boom economy, or the prosecution coming from Manhattan on charges of bank and tax fraud in the Trump organization. But this man surges, Trump-style: he’s all for U.S. military shock troops to quell local protests that he’s provoked; he tweets his preference that the election ninety days away be cancelled.

What we know about our presidential race 90 days from the finish, perhaps all anyone knows, is that a wounded Donald Trump will not go quietly, if he goes at all, if he does not invoke emergency powers to cancel the election. The thought this hour was—and still is—to draw out the astute Russian-and-American diagnostician Masha Gessen, a resistance figure in two countries and author of a new book titled Surviving Autocracy. But then the plot thickened, particularly around the mayhem in Oregon after federal shock-troops had landed, over the objections of state governor, city mayor, and a militant wall of moms. A grave but lonely warning turned up in a New York Times guest-opinion piece. It was written by the sometime Colorado senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart, who joined this week’s conversation from his cabin a few mountains away from Denver.

Guest List
Gary Hart
Former U.S. senator from Colorado.
Martha Minow
Professor at Harvard Law School.
Masha Gessen
Staff writer at the New Yorker.

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