As the presidential election moves into general mode, Donald Trump’s blowtorch style has led many critics to accuse him of bringing dangerous 1930s-style politics to America. But in reality, Trump’s rise does not signal a return of fascism, and his political style does not exactly parallel that of Mussolini. Instead, Trump is part of a modern-day, worldwide democratic retreat, one that has been going on for a decade now in the developing world---and is now making its way to America and Western Europe. The environment that has facilitated Trump’s rise has more in common with Thailand in 2000 and Turkey in 2010 than Italy or Germany in 1933, and Trump’s political approach and flexible policy ideas, though often toxic, are closer to those of Turkish President Recip Tayyep Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, or former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
For more of my analysis of how the U.S. presidential election fits into the current global democratic retreat, read my new Bloomberg piece.