fact that more minorities voted for Trump, but not only is that secondary, it’s a convenient diversion to prevent white people from reckoning with itself. Minorities won the election for Biden — while American whites voted for Trump at apparently exactly their historical average level, about 55%. To the rest of the world, by the way, that’s shocking.

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The second is the rural/urban divide. Biden eked out a last-minute victory as mail-in ballots were counted in a handful of major cities. They’re what geographers tend to call “second cities” — not necessarily elite centers, like Manhattan, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, but Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and so on. But cross the line into the countryside, and votes changed sharply for Trump. While first cities voted across the board for Biden, and second cities shifted to vote for Biden, Trump swept rural areas, whether counties, towns, or hamlets. The rift among ruralites and urbanites is stark and as sharp as the edge of a knife.
Then there’s education. Biden won by large margins among those with higher education, while Trump still swept those who lack it. This divide, too, is super sharp. The educated can’t abide Trump, while the less educated can’t tolerate Biden.
Let’s crystallise all that. America’s a society fracturing along three lines: race, education, and geography. Rural whites with less education supported Trump by large margins — despite the horrors of the last four years. That “despite” is key — because this was not a normal election, after a normal Presidency. Trump seems to have abused his power in every way imaginable, with plenty of help from the GOP — America became, in the eyes of most of the rest of the world, a society having a fascist collapse, replete with camps, bans, raids, purges, hate, demonization, Gestapos, and so forth. The only people who didn’t understand this, sadly, were white Americans — even educated liberals — which is why Biden barely eked out a victory.
Now, it’s one thing when parties in a democracy “disagree” on policies — but share basic values. Like, for example, European ones — the notion that everyone deserves dignity, safety, security, and well-being. We can and often do disagree about how to get there. It’s perfectly normal in a democracy to disagree on means — but to stay a democracy, a society must at least share in common the idea that ends are inalienable and common to all.
So what happens if a society can’t agree on ends anymore? Then one party, one side, one group — usually the more extreme one — tries to force its chosen ends on everyone else. Bang — authoritarian collapse happens, as that side attempts to force their ends on everyone else, over and over again. That is how a democracy dies.
And it’s also exactly the story of America over the last few decades. That brings me the chart above. Take a hard look at it. It’s complex, but it’s important — if you really want to understand what’s going wrong in America. It’s by a group of scholars of democracy, mostly European — who are way, way ahead of their American counterparts.
Let me jump ahead to the conclusion. What the chart says, in summary, is that Republicans have become an authoritarian-leaning party, which has more in common with those that have actually led assaults against democracy, than one which supports democracy: “[The Republican Party’s] rhetoric is closer to authoritarian parties, such as AKP in Turkey and Fidesz in Hungary.”
Take some of the variables that V-Dem uses — I think they’re excellent choices. They’re on the right. Look also at the grey bars — they’re the positions of parties from around the world, all of it.
On aspects like “cultural superiority,” or “violates minority rights,” or “disrespects opponents,” or “encourages violence,” you can see from the chart that over the last two decades, the Republicans have swung further and further to the hard right. So far that by now they’re among the world’s most extreme political parties on many of these anti-democratic variables. Let me say it again — the GOP is among the world’s most extreme parties which are hostile to democracy.
What the chart gives us above is both evidence of and context for how badly American politics have collapsed. You can also see that — if you look at the orange bars — over the last two decades, the swing to the right by the GOP has been rapid and extreme. To be a party that supports democracy, you’d probably have to score less than the average on most or all of these indicators — but the GOP scores right below the average on just one.
American politics is in real trouble. You’re not being “alarmist” to think so. The GOP has grown more and more aggressive, hostile, and extreme, to the point that it is now essentially an authoritarian party.

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