Overall, Snyder’s message is that the United States is not unique—neither in the world today nor against the backdrop of history—in being pushed in more authoritarian directions. If anything, Trump is exploiting the same tactics Putin and state-run media in Russia use, but with the American addiction to 24/7 media and smartphones and other devices, we’re making it easier for an emerging authoritarian like Trump to consolidate his power.
The coming arrests mean that a wide range of Americans will experience the violations that poor people of color have long endured. Self-interest alone should have generated sweeping protest, should have made the nation as a whole more conscious. We should have understood: Once rights become privileges that the state can revoke, they will eventually be taken away from everyone. Now those who had been spared will get a taste of what complicity in oppression means.