I suspect that Michelle Goldberg’s understanding of autocracy is different than the rest of ours. For the New York Times, she writes that if Joe Biden wants to fight autocracy abroad, “he’ll have to start at home.” Her column follows a familiar formula: Call Trump an autocrat, cite “experts” such as Obama administration propaganda minister Ben Rhodes, and preemptively excuse the lack of moral clarity that a Biden administration will exhibit toward rogue states such as China and Iran. Indeed, Goldberg confidently states that “it will take time before the United States is in a position to criticize democratic backsliding anywhere else.”
An autocracy is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “a system of government by one person with absolute power.” If the United States is, as Goldberg asserts, on “the brink of autocracy,” where is the wall? Fact is, Trump couldn’t fulfill his signature campaign promise even with unified Republican control of the federal government. Why was he blocked from rescinding an executive order issued by his predecessor by a Republican-appointed Chief Justice? Why are there still troops in the Middle East? Why is the failing (in the sense of publishing quality work, not financially) New York Times still allowed to publish Goldberg’s drivel? What is that thing we’re holding on Tuesday? What is the assumed result of that thing in her column?
Calling the U.S. an autocracy is a bit like calling Miles Taylor a senior Trump administration official. That is to say, it’s in keeping with the Times’ standards.