(COMMON DREAMS) Jane O’Meara Sanders, October 12, 2018 — All over the world, we are seeing the rise of authoritarianism that is rejecting the norms of democracy, freedom of the press and individual rights. In many countries, we are seeing leaders using political position for personal gain and watching the deliberate instigation of bigotry and intolerance toward the “other”. We are witnessing the undermining and imprisonment of public officials, opposition leaders and journalists. Russia, China, Hungary, Brazil and Saudi Arabia are only a few of the countries moving in this direction.
Most of us who live in democracies believe “it cannot happen here”. But, for many of us in America, it has been stunning to see how quickly President Trump and his administration are shattering the cultural norms of the world’s oldest and most powerful democracy.
All of this is not happening by accident. European and American right-wing factions are in close contact with each other, share tactics and goals, and are organised, led and sometimes even funded by some of the same people.
Democracies, such as ours, that assert equal protection under the law and government accountability to its citizens are foundational to a healthy and humane society, must comprehend the scope of the ultra-conservative movement if we are to effectively confront it.
“We must not be satisfied with incremental, transactional change that makes little progress…”
These organised groups are actively tearing down a post-second World War global order and replacing it with autocratic leadership based on self-interest. Unfortunately, the establishment is defending the existing order and ignoring the fears and insecurities of the people that this outmoded status quo has wrought.
Neither is conducive to a positive future, as neither will provide what so many are asking for: simply put, a decent quality of life. If we are to prevail, we must clearly articulate a vision of shared prosperity, personal freedom, economic fairness and, most importantly, human dignity – the basic tenets of a vital democracy.
That means creating policies that effectively tackle economic, environmental, racial and social justice issues. We must not be satisfied with incremental, transactional change that makes little progress and carefully avoids affecting those in charge or offending their lobbyists and large donors.
We must fight for transformational change that shifts the balance of power back to ordinary citizens and makes a real difference in their lives. The United States and Ireland have each had recent successes in terms of individual rights and economic justice.