There are no guardrails: Trump's second term will lead to a dictatorship

This maddening "think piece" on Politico was published a couple of months ago but I wanted to revisit because the urgency to refute it is even more obvious. Here's the headline: "Trump Can't Be Dictator on 'Day One' — Or in a Second Term. Here's Why."

I don't know this writer's politics (she's a fellow at Brookings so I'm assuming she's a middle of the road institutionalist) but it doesn't really matter — her premise is that even if Trump is re-elected, the guardrails will hold and liberals are basically overreacting, over-worrying, and panicking about nothing. She writes:

As someone who lived through the birth and growth of authoritarianism in Turkey, I'm something of an expert on the subject — and no, another four years of Trump is not enough time to turn America into a dictatorship.

She doesn't deny that he's going to TRY to be a dictator, just that our institutions are so robust he won't be able to pull it off in four years.

There is a particular rhythm and process to dismantling a democracy, a kind of incubation period for despotism: There are laws to change, institutions to dismantle, alliances to build. With a concerted effort by Trump, the incubation period could be squeezed into eight more consecutive years, but not four.

She then goes into each of the institutions that will supposedly protect democracy: the media, the judiciary, the military, the blue state mayors and governors. Her piece is thoughtful and intelligent and well written. With all my heart I hope she's right… but I'm fairly certain she couldn't be more wrong. 

I was going to refute her arguments but I found this excellent Twitter thread by author Brynn Tannehill which lays out the counter-arguments perfectly. If you need talking points for your "calm down" friends, you can't do better than this. 

The basic premise [of the Politico piece] is that the guardrails of US democracy are so strong that Trump couldn't turn the US into a dictatorship even if he had 2 more terms.

This is hopelessly naïve… Masha Gessen warned in 2016 in "Rules for Surviving Autocracy" "Your institutions will not save you." 

Here's Tannehill's closing graph:

This is why I tell you again: should Trump win, everything I have at hand tells me that the US's plunge into Russian or Hungarian-style despotism will be more rapid than you can possibly imagine, because Heritage and the right already have planned it all out. 

If Trump wins and the worst comes to pass, these "rational centrists" are going to have a lot to apologize for.