Moisés Naím has written an article, “Nouvelle Regimes In a Few Easy Steps”, that is a warning to us about what might happen with the socialist left in control of the American government, and unwilling to give up that power to the center or right. Yes, I know, it can’t happen here. But it can. Read how (understanding that the preparation can be adjusted to the unique American political environment)
The world no longer digests military coups as well as it used to. But now there's a new way for autocrats to cook up a grab for power.
This new recipe relies more on lawyers than lieutenant colonels, and uses referendums and constitutional amendments, rather than tanks and assaults on presidential palaces, as key ingredients. But the result is the same: a dictator who, while keeping up the veneer of democracy, retains power for a long time….
1. Shake well the poorest segment of the population with a fiercely polarizing campaign. Sprinkle in resentment, political rancor and economic populism. Rinse away harmony while bringing social conflicts to a boil.
2. Come to power through a democratic election. This can be facilitated by having corrupt and discredited political rivals and a good vote-buying team. Stress the need to root out corruption and recover the wealth that the rich have stolen.
3. After winning that first election, hold other ones, but don't lose any. Elections aren't about democracy -- they're the garnish on your dish.
4. Change the top military command by promoting officers loyal to the president. Reward loyal officers with material benefits and punish the unenthusiastic. Spy on all of them, all the time.
5. Do the same with judges and magistrates.
6. Launch a campaign to change the constitution through a popular referendum. Coerce public employees to vote and make sure that some in the opposition campaign against participating in the referendum. Convince members of the opposition that their votes are irrelevant.
7. The new constitution should guarantee any and all rights to its citizens especially the poorest, while minimizing their duties and obligations. Promise to alleviate poverty and extinguish inequality. Bury inside the new constitution provisions, concocted in complex legalese, that weaken or eliminate the separation of powers, concentrate authority in the president and allow for his indefinite reelection.
8. Discredit, minimize, co-opt, buy and repress the political opposition.
9. Control the media. Tolerate a few tiny outlets that are critical of the government but have a limited reach. They will be your cover against accusations that there is no freedom of the press.
10. Repeat step number three. Indefinitely.