What is democracy? The dictionary describes it as a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. But what does that really mean?
In a truly Democratic society, the people have the authority to choose their governing legislation. Who people are and how authority is shared among them are core issues for democratic theory, development and constitution. Some cornerstones of these issues are freedom of assembly and speech, inclusiveness and equality, membership, consent, voting, right to life and minority rights.
Democracy consists of four key elements: a political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections; the active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life; protection of the human rights of all citizens; and a rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.
On the opposite end, a dictatorship is a form of government characterized by a single leader or group of leaders and little or no toleration for political pluralism or independent programs or media.
Dictatorships are not democracies, but some say President Donald Trump is trying to turn our democracy into a dictatorship.
“President of the United States” is, arguably, the most powerful title and position in the world. And with great power comes great responsibility.
America has forever been the beacon of light and hope for those who seek freedom and basic human rights. But are those being taken away from us under this administration? Are we still the “land of the free and the home of the brave?” Well, that depends on who you ask.
According to his actions, Trump has teetered dangerously close to crossing over from democracy to dictatorship.
He has used tactics similar to martial law during protests, has ripped children from their families who try to cross the US-Mexico border, has allegedly withheld funds from states and governors who oppose his views, threatened institutions like NATO and the World Health Organization, and withdrawn from multilateral treaties like the Iran nuclear deal and Paris Climate Accord. Most recently, he is publicly challenging and undermining the democratic voting process by compromising the US Postal Service, sabotaging the mail-in ballot options and casting doubt among his supporters, claiming that the process is rigged and will “cheat” him out of re-election.
With countries around the world watching us, this puts America in a weakened state.
“The problem isn’t just Trump failing to endorse democratic process, it’s that he uses the same strategies as undemocratic leaders to undermine the democratic process,” said Nic Cheeseman, professor of democracy at the University of Birmingham.
Cheeseman says there is a “real threat in Trump sending out a message that he won’t stand up for democracy” that less democratic global leaders will take this as a green light to lower their own standards.
“Leaders around the world really do look at the international climate to see what they can get away with. If you see that Trump is unwilling to promote democracy in other countries then backs that up by undermining democracy in his own country, the risk at play for you, say, rigging your own election is significantly lowered.”
Trump’s action make America and the Democratic process look like a joke. Also, the president’s “inability to handle” the coronavirus/ COVID-19 pandemic has caused international scrutiny.
The Institute for Democracy published an open letter this summer, in which more 500 former world leaders and Nobel Laureates warned that authoritarian regimes are using the pandemic to erode democracy.
The letter, organized by the Stockholm-based Institute for Democracy, highlights that in the wake of the crisis, both authoritarian and democratically-elected governments the world over have used emergency powers to arrest protestors and sidestep democratic norms.
The letter warns: “Authoritarian regimes, not surprisingly, are using the crisis to silence critics and tighten their political grip. But even some democratically-elected governments are fighting the pandemic by amassing emergency powers that restrict human rights and enhance state surveillance without regard to legal constraints, parliamentary oversight, or timeframes for the restoration of constitutional order.
“Parliaments are being sidelined, journalists are being arrested and harassed, minorities are being scapegoated, and the most vulnerable sectors of the population face alarming new dangers as the economic lockdowns ravage the very fabric of societies everywhere.”
The letter also stated, “Democracy is under threat, and people who care about it must summon the will, the discipline, and the solidarity to defend it. At stake are the freedom, health, and dignity of people everywhere.
Another cause for concern is that Trump sings praises of dictators including Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin, and many have compared Trump to Adolph Hitler, the ruthless dictator responsible for the Holocaust.
It has been noted that both Trump and Hitler attack the judiciary and rule of law and degrades anyone who disagrees with them.
Both denigrate the immigrants and made border closings the centerpiece of their campaigns. Hitler wanted to free Germany of the Jews, and we all know the tragic lengths he went to try and accomplish their “extermination.” And Trump has, seemingly, waged an all-out war against immigrants from Mexico -ripping apart families at the border, snatching crying children from their parents and locking them all up in camps.
In addition, neither was elected by the majority.
If we do not recognize history, we are doomed to repeat it. And when things are right in front of your face, you cannot ignore it.
It’s time to dig a little deeper and wipe the corners of your eyes. A picture is worth a thousand words. What image do you see? – AANI