As tyrants take control of democracies, they typically:
1. Exaggerate their mandate to govern — claiming, for example, that they won an election by a landslide even after losing the popular vote.
2. Repeatedly claim massive voter fraud in the absence of any evidence, in order to restrict voting in subsequent elections.
3. Call anyone who opposes them “enemies.”
4. Turn the public against journalists or media outlets that criticize them, calling them “deceitful” and “scum.”
5. Hold few if any press conferences, preferring to communicate with the public directly through mass rallies and unfiltered statements.
6. Tell the public big lies, causing them to doubt the truth and to believe fictions that support the tyrants’ goals.
7. Blame economic stresses on immigrants or racial or religious minorities, and foment public bias and even violence against them.
8. Attribute acts of domestic violence to “enemies within,” and use such events as excuses to beef up internal security and limit civil liberties.
9. Threaten mass deportations, registries of religious minorities and refugees bans.
10. Seek to eliminate or reduce the influence of competing centers of power, such as labor unions and opposition parties.
11. Appoint family members to high positions of authority.
12. Surround themselves with their own personal security force rather than a security detail accountable to the public.
13. Put generals into top civilian posts.
14. Make personal alliances with foreign dictators.
15. Draw no distinction between personal property and public property, profiteering from their public office.
Consider yourself warned.
Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written 15 books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's also co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism."
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