Thursday, January 19, 2017

Trump's unpopularity is a big deal

There has been a lot of comparisons between Trump and Putin (e.g. this interview with Alexey Kovalev). But one big difference between the Russian president and the incoming American president is that Putin is really popular with Russians while Trump is really unpopular with Americans. That's a big difference. Even autocrats need to keep their popularity up if they want to stay in power (that's why they so often try to control the press).

Even if Trump were a complete Putin clone (and I don't think he is) and even if we assume that the strength of American institutions as a check against authoritarianism is overeastimate (I fear that might be true), Trump just doesn't have the people at his back. He won't be able to get away with the same stuff.