Gen. Jorge Rafael Videla, who would go on to disappear thousands of citizens in Argentina’s “Dirty War,” is sworn-in as president in 1976 next to members of the junta that overthrew Argentinian president Isabel Peron. Image via AP Photo.

I am not sure how to break this to you, but according to new research published in the New York Times, those millennials who were supposed to usher us back towards a free and progressive society actually appear fairly taken with the idea of being ruled by a repressive dictator.


Yascha Mounk, a government lecturer at Harvard, and Roberto Stefan Foa, a political scientist at the University of Melbourne, developed a formula to test the strength of liberal democracies around the world, which have been visibly eroding for some time. Mounk told the Times that “the warning signs are flashing red,” just to give you a sense of how we’re doing. The formula goes like this:

The first factor was public support: How important do citizens think it is for their country to remain democratic? The second was public openness to nondemocratic forms of government, such as military rule. And the third factor was whether “antisystem parties and movements” — political parties and other major players whose core message is that the current system is illegitimate — were gaining support.

If support for democracy was falling while the other two measures were rising, the researchers marked that country “deconsolidating.” And they found that deconsolidation was the political equivalent of a low-grade fever that arrives the day before a full-blown case of the flu.

According to Mounk and Foa, the United States and a number of other democracies around the world appear to be “deconsolidating” in the same way Venezuela had before Hugo Chávez was elected president (though the Times points out that correlation is not causation, with the basic cause of democratic deconsolidation remaining unproven).


Using data from the European and World Values Surveys, the researchers found that the number of Americans who believe army rule would be “good” or “very good” has risen from 1 in 16 in 1995 to 1 in 6 in 2014; in previous research, they found that only 19 percent of millennial Americans believed a military takeover of an incompetent or failing government would be illegitimate (versus 43 percent of older Americans).

In the U.S., Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Sweden, they found that the percentage of people who believe democracy is “essential” has “plummeted” (click here for a terrifying graph!), particularly in younger generations.

So! Good morning, everyone!