Frequently Asked Questions

What is Stop the Slide?

Stop the Slide is the first practitioner-driven indications and warning system for American democracy in the age of President Donald Trump. Every month, Truman Center tracks more than 180 indicators across seven broad categories to check the health of our democracy and assess any trends towards authoritarianism.

Who designed Stop the Slide?

A small group of Truman staff and members conceptualized Stop the Slide. A wider group of members—35 experts who are members of the intelligence community, the military and foreign service, non-governmental organizations, and universities who specialize in combatting authoritarianism around the world—fleshed out the indications and warning System and built out the indicators list, and then Truman staff organized the data and built the web platform itself. Stop the Slide was created and is maintained with the generous support of the Open Society Foundations.

How does Stop the Slide Work?

Stop the Slide is an indications and warning system, a tool used by analysts in the intelligence to produce a holistic analysis of overall trends by tracking many different individual indicators. Every month, we check 180 indicators across seven different categories to assess the health of American democracy and mark each as active, partially active, or inactive; each indicator also has a severity level on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the least severe and 5 being the most. Ultimately, the more severe indicators that are active or partially active, the more we need to be concerned about the Trump Administration’s tilt towards authoritarianism at the expense of the institutions that hold up American democracy.

What is the “weighted authoritarian value?”

The “weighted authoritarian value” for each category of indicators—featured over time on the main page as well as on each category’s own separate page—reflects how many indicators are active in a category, with each active indicator weighted by its level of severity (on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the least severe and 5 being the most). The “weighted authoritarian value” helps us track the seriousness of trends over time, in addition to the simple active/partially active/inactive snapshot that we offer for each category.

How often is Stop the Slide updated?

Stop the Slide is updated monthly.

What are your sources for Stop the Slide?

Stop the Slide uses algorithms to continually search the global wire services and neutral, long-form reporting sources in order to ascertain which indicators become active when.

Why did you build Stop the Slide?

Because we’re concerned about our country. Democracy and authoritarianism are in a battle at home and abroad, and the United States isn’t exempt.

But why did you start Stop the Slide now?

We recognize that tracking authoritarian backslide in the United States starting from any point would be useful—again, this is not confined to the Trump Administration. Stop the Slide’s indicator tracking began in October 2016 because that is when the public first learned about efforts by Vladimir Putin’s Russia to influence American democracy.

Isn’t a tracker to ask if the Trump Administration is acting in an authoritarian way always going to find evidence that the Trump Administration is acting in an authoritarian way? In other words, aren’t you basically ‘leading the witness’ here? Some of the indicators were created in response to specific things candidate/President Trump has said and done. However, in the process of building Stop the Slide, we applied our model to other countries that have undergone authoritarian backslide, and we also crafted the indicators in such a way that they can and should be used to monitor the health of our administration far beyond the Trump Administration. At the end of the day, some may see Stop the Slide through a partisan lens—but protecting our rights and institutions should concern Americans of all political stripes.

How should I use Stop the Slide?

Use it to stay informed, and share it far and wide so others can too. It’s far from too late for American democracy—and the best tool we have to safeguard our rights and freedoms against authoritarian encroachment is a well-informed and alert citizenry who knows what signals to look for amongst the noise.

Where can I learn more?

Keep an eye out for more from Truman Center and Truman Project on our websites, and look for us to release a collection of resources from partner organizations soon!