Hopeful books and articles about turning the tide of authoritarianism
November 12, 2020 5:30 PM   Subscribe

Help, I'm drowning in negative news about how the U.S. is turning to authoritarianism, eroding democracy, etc. Are there books, articles and interviews about ways people fight/reverse/change minds amidst this situation? Other countries that faced this and turned it back? Please no "all hope is lost" comments, I've got enough of that pumping through my veins from Twitter/newspapers/social media!
posted by rogerroger to Law & Government (6 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The book 'A Force More Powerful: A Century of Non-violent Conflict' is based on a documentary series called 'A Force More Powerful'. Lots of stuff about overthrowing dictatorships and such.
posted by catquas at 6:10 PM on November 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think the system will work. States will certify elections, electors will be appointed and sent to the Electoral College to vote, and Biden will be elected. He will be sworn in on Jan. 20. Chief Justice Roberts has shown no interest in subversion. There have been rare instances of individual 'faithless electors' but Biden has plenty of EC votes. Damage is being done by obstruction tactics, but it is recoverable, unless there's some huge 9/11-type event, which we have no reason to expect. Biden is confident on the surface, as he should be, but is fighting the court battles. The courts are not ruling for Trump, largely because the cases presented are absurdly thin, undocumented, and utterly without merit.

I read and listen to Boston College Professor of History Heather Cox Richardson regularly for perspective and facts and recommend you do the same. I have never been a history fan, but she brings it together and tells stories and she's opinionated, but has the background, and labels her opinions as such. her daily letters have been a huge help in staying calm-ish through the last couple months.

This is a sort of parallel ask; I gave a very similar answer, and will, again, recommend Marc E. Elias, @marceelias, along with his org @DemocracyDocket. He posts about the court cases as they are dismissed, and I find it encouraging. Right now, the most under-covered story is how absurd the Trump lawsuits are and why GOP lawyers are signing their names to these pleadings.
posted by theora55 at 6:50 PM on November 12, 2020 [5 favorites]

I had to largely stop using Twitter 4 years ago because it's chock full of people with doom-laden bad takes, and my blood pressure would skyrocket every time I logged on. You might want to think about taking a break from it! Or change up who you follow.

If you do stay on Twitter, I highly recommend following Teri Kanefield, a lawyer and election expert who has been posting some really sane, informative, cogent, and reassuring stuff lately. She also has a blog, which is even better than her Twitter feed.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 7:48 PM on November 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

I know this doesn’t answer your question specifically (mods take me if you will) but I have been dealing with the exact same thing. A very wise friend reminded me that new outlets exist to deliver information, yes, but also to sell themselves. And doom and gloom keep people reading and buying. I am now officially on a news fast for the next 2 weeks and am feeling better after only a few days. I know the outcome of the election and the rest, as they say, is just commentary. Which I’m confident I can live without for now. It might be naive, but for my mental health I’m trusting that if something actually relevant to my day-to-day happens, my friends and family will let me know. Otherwise, I’m breaking out my favorite novels written before any of this ever happened!
posted by leafmealone at 8:44 PM on November 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

How To Stop a Coup
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:53 PM on November 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

Not a book recommendation, but registering people to vote is a pretty good antidote to what you're feeling. I carry reg forms, in envelopes, wherever I go. I'm the kind of person that easily strikes up conversations with strangers, and if I like someone's attitude, I ask them if they're registered. If they say no, I ask after their affiliation or leanings. If they're Republican, I tell them they should go online and get registered. If they're progressive or Democratic, I give them a form. If they're already registered, I make sure they know where to vote, but this also gives me a chance to explain the math to them: if just 20% of Democrats in our "red" state register a couple of people each, we'll have a lead. If the independents do the same, we'll have a commanding lead. Progressive initiatives poll far above the numbers for individual progressive candidates, and poll ahead of the Democratic party or the "liberal" label.

The point is that Republicans can't get elected if they honestly run on their views and platform: most people aren't interested in helping rich people get richer. If we reach out to our progressive neighbors and get them involved and voting, we can make this country a truly great place to live, instead of the dystopian hellscape it's well on its way to becoming. I promise you: there are few things that make a person feel better than getting them to register to vote. It absolutely crushes despair. And the racists and Trumpalos do want you to feel despair, because that means you won't act, won't vote, and won't oppose their horrible schemes.

I won't be surprised if the mods remove this comment due to me not directly addressing the ask. But in my defense, I know from personal experience that this path is a reliable way out of the feeling that there's nothing that a single person can do to make things better. We beat these racists twice before in 1865 and 1945, and we'll do it again. The arc of the universe does, indeed, bend toward justice.
posted by ivanthenotsoterrible at 5:08 AM on November 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

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