Trump's vindictive political purging puts America's democracy at risk

One by one, Trump is ensuring that anyone who stands between him and total control is eliminated

President Trump before a speech
(Image credit: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Every year, the non-partisan, D.C.-based organization Freedom House issues a report scoring every country in the world along two dimensions of human liberty. Its scorching 2018 report, called "Democracy in Crisis," singles out America for "an accelerating decline in American political rights and civil liberties." The United States no longer features the freest combined score of 1 on the group's benchmark political and civil rights index. While the U.S. is not yet anywhere close to what I like to call a "Seagram's State" (countries that get the worst possible score of 7 and 7 on the political and civil rights indices, like North Korea), it is very much trending in the wrong direction.

Friday evening's bizarre firing of former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe by Attorney General Jeff Sessions is yet another reason to believe that Freedom House is right: The U.S. is at dire risk of democratic backsliding. After McCabe, a career FBI official just hours away from retirement, was humiliatingly sacked by Sessions in a way that seemed intentionally designed to deny him his pension benefits, President Trump took to Twitter to continue his unprecedented and childish public smear campaign against any individual inside the federal bureaucracy who dares to defy him.

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David Faris

David Faris is an associate professor of political science at Roosevelt University and the author of It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics. He is a frequent contributor to Informed Comment, and his work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and Indy Week.