Moderates must avoid ‘Flight 93 Temptation’ to borrow from the populists’ illiberal playbook


The two most venerable English-speaking democracies appear to be following in the footsteps of countries they once sought to inspire. As the experience of Argentina, Hungary, or even Italy make clear, once unhinged politics becomes the new norm, escaping the normalized chaos and nihilism that ensues is difficult, according to Dalibor Rohac, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Sophia Gaston, the director of the British Foreign Policy Group and a research fellow at the London School of Economics and the European Policy Centre.

In one sense, the desire to renegotiate the norms, standards, and structures underpinning liberal democracies is understandable. Political institutions have to adapt and evolve to the

National Endowment for Democracy

demographic, economic, and social realities of modern times. It is one thing, however, to call for reform and quite another to champion the dissolution of the codes of conduct and institutions that have granted us prosperity, security, and freedom over so many years, they write for The American Interest:

The erosion of trust in democratic institutions is pernicious—not only because it makes it harder to credibly push back against genuine violations of constitutional norms, but also because it risks turning our politics and our societies into fundamentally combative spaces, in which compromises are neither possible nor desirable. While there is undoubtedly much at stake, moderates must avoid the temptation to follow the populist playbook and allow those with illiberal intentions to reshape the very nature of our democracies. Rather, they must find a meaningful way to re-imagine these institutions that once served us so well, and reinstate the foundations of our peace and success. RTWT


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