Most citizens of earth have never heard of Freedom House. They are a wonderful and necessary watchdog for all freedom lovers. Their organization has been around since 1941. Over the last 14 years, they found that political freedoms and civil liberties across the world are in decline more often than they are improving. Its opening statement in the 2020 report by Sarah Repucci stated, “Democracy and pluralism are under assault. Dictators are toiling to stamp out the last vestiges of domestic dissent and spread their harmful influence to new corners of the world.”
As the world stutters in disbelief by how Americans are allowing Trump to obliterate democracy in the United States, many other countries are also seeing the same attack on their democratic governments. This is the history of democracies. They all fail. When those in office learn that they can enrich themselves at the expense of the citizens their greed and lust for power becomes the driving factors over concerns for their constituents.
This was on full display not long ago historically speaking. Democracy nearly died on a global level in the 1920s and 1930s. The world experienced a short burst of democratic governments after WWI when the several new nations were birthed from the peace agreement. At the time there was a subdued euphoria that as more democracies formed throughout the globe the world would become less tyrannical. But this was noticeably short lived indeed. Albania, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, and Yugoslavia all had short lived democracies.
This also affected more established democracies in Europe that were suffering mightily from the effects of the WWI. It took just a matter of months for Mussolini to take over Italy in 1922. By 1930 there was a global discussion that society as whole may break down and cease to function. In 1932 Mussolini was quoted as saying “The liberal state is destined to perish”. And it was. By 1933 Hitler rose to power. Authoritarian regimes took over Portugal, Spain, and Uruguay. Democracies cratered in Greece, Estonia, Latvia, and Romania.
It was not all peaches and cream in America. American democracy was brought to its knees from corruption, inequality, racial injustice, indifference, corporate monopolies, massive unemployment, and a starving population. Fascism and Communism were growing in America. Blacks were questioning democracy. Rightfully so since they had no role in it since the founding of the country. Make no mistake, American democracy was on the brink of extinction.
The same year Hitler took power FDR gave his first inaugural address when he stated, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”. America needed to hear that as fears were rampant throughout the country. Most newspapers and radio broadcasts were questioning if “it could happen here”. Business leaders were skeptical of the New Deal as they saw it as a means to check their cozy deals they built through past administrations, attacking it as unconstitutional. The black and brown communities felt again left out, at best.
Does this look familiar? America is in the throes of this right now. Massive employment, an economy just a hairs breath away from collapse, a Republican party so inept it cannot even settle anything within its own factions, and company owners of Facebook and Amazon profiting billions during all of it. Just as I write this article news came out that the United States just had the worse quarter ever in its economy, seeing a 32.9% drop in GDP. After all the years that passed, America still has racial injustice. And Trump is following Hitler’s playbook as if he wrote it himself by stoking fear and unrest throughout the country by targeting “others”, using federal agents (just like Hitler’s SS) to stoke aggression in American cities, and caging children. In modern history only two countries have caged children, Hitler’s Germany, and Trump’s America.
From his first day in office Trump has made nice with the autocrats of the world while dismissing and denigrating our democratic allies. In an international television broadcast, he sold out his own intelligence community to make Vladimir Putin look good. He nearly took down NATO. And throughout all this the Republican party has been complicit. Their only interest in the last 30 years has been to profit from their positions in office by delivering drastic tax cuts that largely benefitted their rich donors. History will not look favorably upon them.
And now the world is faced with the worse pandemic in 100 years. It has put a strain on every country no matter politics. Just this week the United States death toll passed the death toll of the 19-year Vietnam War. And it only took six months! Trump has led America to the #1 standing in the world. How many Americans do you think are proud of that?
Trump is doing everything in his power to abolish democracy. I believe his poor response to the pandemic is intentional, hoping it affects the election. His utter contempt for the people of his country is on full display. His policy regarding the Post Office is slowing mail delivery, thus hoping to hamper the voter count in November. Americans need to see what’s right in front of their eyes. And they need to wake up before Kris Kristofferson’s lyrics “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” that Janis Joplin made so famous becomes our reality.