Often, tyranny happens through “evolution not revolution,” says historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat, and Donald Trump did a lot to erode American democracy. The twice-impeached ex-president became a magnet for extremists and his Twitter obsession was more nefarious than it seemed. “Propaganda works through repetition…that’s what social media does so well,” she points out. And while some were amused by watching Ted Cruz cowing to Tucker Carlson for calling Jan. 6 a “terrorist attack,” Ben-Ghiat says she watched that clip with dread. “It’s not just about repeating propaganda. You have to enforce it,” she explains. “This is what dictators do when people cross the party line when they said something they shouldn’t have said.”
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