Can it happen to us?

From “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century” by Timothy Snyder

Does the history of tyranny apply to the United States? Certainly the early Americans who spoke of “eternal vigilance” would have thought so. The logic of the system they devised was to mitigate the consequences of our real imperfections, not to celebrate our imaginary perfection. We certainly face, as did the ancient Greeks, the problem of oligarchy – ever more threatening as globalization increases differences in wealth. The odd American idea that giving money to political campaigns is free speech means that the very rich have far more speech, and so in effect far more voting power, than other citizens. We believe that we have checks and balances, but have rarely faced a situation like the present: when the less popular of the two parties suppresses voting, claims fraud when it loses elections, and controls the majority of statehouses. The party that exercises such control proposes few policies that are popular with the society at large, and several that are unpopular – and thus must either fear democracy or weaken it.