21 April 2017

The Beginning of the End

The Washington Post published a very interesting essay on Wednesday (link here) with the title "This is what the beginning of the end of democracy looks like."

The piece looks at Donald Trump as part of an international drift away from democracy toward absolutism and autocratacy. The change began several years before Trump was elected, but his election will hasten this development.

I am not one who believes Trump will be the next Hitler. I don't think any autocrat in the 21st century will look like the fascists of early to mid-20th century.

But that's not to say Trump won't be an autocrat or at least try to be one. And, intentionally or accidentally, he'll help encourage movement toward autocracies in the rest of the world.

There are many obvious dangers in an autocracy. Everyone's rights are at stake. Dissent is silenced and often brutally. If you've ever spent time in an autocratic country, as I have, the difference is palpable.

Minorities and LGBT people are often singled out for particular persecution in an autocracy. We see that in Russia. We see that in countries like Iran and Belarus and other parts of the former Eastern Block.

This persecution can unite support from conservatives worldwide behind the autocrat. We see that in America when people like Trump, Sarah Palin, and other Republicans praise Vladimir Putin. They like him because he has imposed a theocratic anti-LGBT autocracy in Russia.

This is the great danger Trump poses to LGBT citizens throughout the world. While certain attempts at LGBT persecution by people in his administration will be stopped by the courts in the United States, some may still happen.

Outside of the country, however, people like Putin and Recep Erdogan, Turkey's increasingly autocratic president, may feel emboldened to step up attacks on LGBT people in their country. In 2015, for instance, the English-language Israeli newspaper Haaretz published an article (link here) titled "How Erdogan Spurs LGBT Hatred for Political Gain" which documents how an autocrat instinctively will turn to intolerance toward LGBT people as a way to solidify his base.

Certain demographics in both Britain and the United States have a long history of flirting with the far right and embracing autocratic ideals, but large majorities in both countries have always rejected such inclinations. Because such flirtations were arguably stronger in Britain (link here), I think many people with a British upbringing like me are naturally very cautious when people like Trump and his international counterparts say or do anything even remotely autocratic.

I'm almost certain the United States will survive Trump's presidency, and I'm not alone in that opinion. However, that doesn't mean we shouldn't speak out each and every time he does something undemocratic and un-American.

The more he is contained and constrained, the better for democracy worldwide, now and in the future.

1 comment:

  1. Well written. This explains what I have feared and been disgusted by in the last 20+ years, but have been able to put words to. For me, 2 questions remain: xan this trend be halted and if so, how? To thise, I don't have an answer for...yet.


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