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  • Writer's pictureSona Chaturvedi

Authoritarians Must be Stopped

Photo Credit: Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa. Donald Trump's DOJ deployed federal agents to Portland over the summer.

Dictatorships and white nationalism have spread at a rapid pace worldwide. What we once thought was problematic only in a handful of countries has quickly become a threat everywhere, including in places we would have least expected. Authoritarianism is no longer a problem unique to the Middle East, Russia, Belarus or other third-world outposts. It affects us all.

“Just a few years ago, the idea that the extreme right would come to power in what were regarded as stable liberal democracies would have been dismissed, not only by liberals, but by more left-wing progressives,” said Walden Bellow of CounterPunch. “Yet, in just eight years, 2010-2018, the world has seen the extreme right move from being outside the corridors of power to the center of power itself.”

Authoritarian rhetoric often depicts a false narrative in which everyone in a certain demographic had an ideal life until it was crudely taken from them. Strongmen like Donald Trump tap into economic anxiety, as demographics shift and people need an, “other,” to blame.

Trump is out of the Oval Office, thankfully, but the GOP in America has succumbed to his brand of authoritarian leanings. “Whatever Trump personally decides to do about his political future, the fact that GOP lawmakers continue to perform their loyalty acts to him on television bodes nothing good for the health of our democracy,” said Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a New York University historian and expert on fascism.

Now, Americans are beginning to understand what it has been like for other democratic countries that experienced threats to their democracies, rule of law and basic human rights. Similar movements have sprung up in several Western countries.

Generally speaking, we have the why. Now we need to know the how. Tools are required to understand by what means we stop the next dictatorial aggression. Alarmists never want to be correct, but we need to listen to them. There are no shortage of experts in this field.

The warning bells have been going off about Trump since day one, and many warned us before he took office.

America did not listen. Most didn’t entertain the thought that he had dictatorial tendencies. Many viewed him as nonsensical. Very few thought he could win. We didn’t envision a cable network like Fox News would essentially turn into state-run television to support and provide cover for him. We were wrong. Trump and his enablers turned out to be more than a joke, and they continue to be a threat. We should have been prepared.

We weren’t ready for Trump, but we are for the GOP. This is the balancing act America and other countries are dealing with. Straddling how to govern “normally,” or change it up entirely.

In America, changing it means adopting a vigorous progressive outlook and bypassing Republicans, as Biden just did with his $1.9 trillion much-needed relief package. It was opposed by all Republicans, even though it was popular among both parties and with most Americans. Voting against it was straight out of a dictatorial playbook to keep people desperate. Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus and Vladimir Putin use these very same techniques, which is why we are seeing an uprising in those countries. It is no secret why there is an outpouring of support for left-leaning, pro-union and worker-rights opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Russians have had enough of Putin and his fascist tactics.

And now the United States, a nation that liberated others from oppression, has the experience of being taken in by an authoritarian. We have joined the rest of the world, to their shock and our horror.

Addressing it globally is the most effective way to end it for all.

The battle for rights and democracy must continue.

We can’t ever let our guard down again.


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