Podcast | The state of authoritarianism, at home and abroad

A panel of experts discusses similarities and differences between anti-democratic developments in Russia and the U.S. 

Two men in suits in front of flags

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk during a meeting in Beijing, China, Friday, Feb. 4, 2022. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

There is a lot to be said about authoritarians right now. Most notably, president of Russia Vladimir Putin has been waging a war in Ukraine that is upending the global order while suppressing dissent at home. 

Even before his attempted conquest of Kyiv, though, Putin’s authoritarian rap sheet was plenty long, replete with intercontinental election meddling and persecution of his political opponents. And the Russian leader is only one of a crop of authoritarians throughout the world.


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And then there is the creeping authoritarianism in the United States, most visible in an anti-democratic insurrection by supporters of now-former President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021. 

For this episode of the Crosscut Talks podcast, journalist David Corn explores these threads with an expert panel including U.S. intelligence expert Rebekah Koffler, professor of history Ruth Ben-Ghiat and professor of government Steven Levitsky, all of whom have written recent books that, in one way or another, track the rise of strongmen and their threats to democracy.

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About the Hosts

Mark Baumgarten

Mark Baumgarten

Mark Baumgarten is the managing editor at Crosscut and KCTS 9.