America's political rot is infecting the world order. This could be as big as the Soviet collapseby Francis Fukuyama / December 13, 2016 / Leave a comment
Published in January 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
Donald Trump’s evolution from a buffoonish fringe candidate taken seriously by no one to the President-Elect of the United States is one of the most unexpected and traumatic events in recent US history. The effects are uncertain, but—in the worst case—they could lead to the US giving up entirely on global leadership, and the unravelling of the liberal world order it has done much to build since the 1950s.
The triumph of the Trump brand of nationalism is arguably of a piece with authoritarian advances in disparate countries, from Recep Tayyip Erdo˘gan’s Turkey to Viktor Orbán’s Hungary. Together these developments constitute an even more fundamental problem to cherished western ideas, by making populist democracy an active threat to individual liberty. A great deal remains up in the air, but with indignant nationalists riding the tide in so many places, we cannot preclude the possibility that we are living through a political disruption that will in time bear comparison with the collapse of Communism a generation ago.
There will be endless post-mortems in the US on how Trump’s win could possibly have come about; much of the media attention will continue to focus on short-term issues like the intervention by FBI Director James Comey 11 days before the election, or on the stream of reportedly Rus…