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Political Targeting in Democracies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 May 2022

Abstract

Democratic erosion—the undermining of republican government by a leader with authoritarian tendencies—depends on the improper use of the state apparatus of the state against opponents (“political targeting”). Because political targeting sometimes falls into a legally gray area, and because officials have some maneuvering room in how to respond to the orders they receive, their preferences matter. In the United States, officials’ behavior seems to be most influenced by a) the professional risks of refusing improper orders, b) normative obligations to uphold the rule of law and to act ethically, and c) attitudes toward the leader. These factors are, in turn, largely a function of 1) how officials are selected and 2) the extent of oversight and procedural checks they face. These findings have potentially broad implications for democratic erosion.

Type
Reflection
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Political Science Association

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Footnotes

A list of permanent links to Supplemental Materials provided by the authors precedes the References section.

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