Linking today's NY Times article, but I only wanted to highlight certain parts of it. (Cross between a link post and a quick take).

I think 'preparing for autocratic leadership' and 'safeguarding democratic, republican, rule-of-law institutions' may be a neglected cause.

“What Trump and his acolytes are running on is an authoritarian playbook,” said Patrick Gaspard, the chief executive of the CAP Action Fund, the political arm of the liberal think tank the Center for American Progress. He added, “So now we have to democracy-proof our actual institutions and the values that we share.”

And next month, the anti-Trump conservative group Principles First and Norman Eisen, who was a lawyer for House Democrats during Mr. Trump’s first impeachment and helped produce an “autocracy threat tracker” focused on Mr. Trump’s plans, are organizing a conference at New York University entitled “Autocracy in America – A Warning and Response.” They are inviting dozens of practitioners and scholars to discuss how to resist leaders with authoritarian leanings around the world, Mr. Eisen said.

I think that the USA's government and governance is in general a global priority, or adjacent and pivotal to this, considering both present welfare and catastrophic and existential threats.

Important IMO: Preserving democratic civilian control, the rule of law, well-run institutions, (small r) republican practices, protecting fundamental freedoms and rights in the USA, helping preserve a ~peaceful and ~stable world order, and contributing to global public goods and global cooperation, especially on GCRs.

Related points have been made before:

My impression is that the article and the initiatives mentioned may be neglecting...

  1. The potential for doing this safeguarding in a nonpartisan way, even a 'not-explicitly-Trump-focused way'. Framing this as 'shoring up our institutions and checks and balances against threats from all sides'.

  2. Reaching out specifically to people across a range of leadership positions in the military, as well as maybe police, first-responders, judges, and other potentially pivotal actors. Working to build and reinforce a culture of loyalty to the constitution, the rule of law, stability, human freedom, international compassion, and tolerance.

There may be some of this happening outside of the public view, maybe for info hazard reasons. But I also see potential for an initiative involving communities and public commitments by leaders and future leaders.

Even implicitly 'costly precommitments', such as signing public letters committing to these principles and institutions.

Perhaps taking specific steps, such as publicly signing sharing letters/petitions to the government... asking for sanctions on specific judges who have failed to enforce the rule of law. These would be costly actions because they are risky.

An authoritarian leader may try to punish people who specifically took this step. But that's precisely why it's a costly and meaningful commitment. Getting a large group to take a step like this would be a public signal of the strength of the 'silent majority supporting democratic institutions', willing to commit to this. And it would make retribution less difficult (the 'I am Spartacus' solution).





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I think the underlying idea is a good idea, but I'm pretty pessimistic about actual implementation. My impression is that presidential administrations of both flavours attempt to expand executive power, and "if we do this it might be abused by the other side" arguments have generally not been effective. For example, when I look at recent SCOTUS cases the current administration has generally sided with expanding government/executive power every time (e.g. Chevron, censorship, firearms, debt modification). I'm not sure if this is due to myopia or being much less concerned about future authoritarianism than people often claim.

Unrelatedly, I'm not sure why this post is tagged 'community' as it is not really about the EA community.

Sorry community tag was an accident. Will remove it.

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