I woke up at 6.30am this morning wondering what is happening to democracy? Have people got complacent about it or so disenchanted that they are comfortable with leaders like Trump, Putin and Erdogan taking so much power? Have they forgotten what happens when leaders over reach their power and become monarchs or Tsars? It’s a long time since Charles I was put in his place and I worry that we are not being alert enough to ensure that there are blocks in place to prevent a leader simply changing the law to remain in power as long as they choose and somehow convincing a gullible population that this is good for them. The younger generation may not fully appreciate what happened in the build-up to Hitler, or to the Communist state and if they don’t then we need to inform them! The generations that were close to these events are dying out and getting older. The young need to know more about how power gets snatched from before their eyes without them realising it.
I am just re-reading Dr Zhivago and it paints a miserable picture of life under a Communist ideology – long queues, people thrown out of their homes, the elite pilloried, doctors regarded as ‘professional elite’ and thrown out of jobs, academics and writers sent to Siberia. It didn’t happen overnight but it can – President Erdogan has thrown some 160,000 people into prison over the last year and yet what is the rest of the world doing to question this? President Trump puts people in cages. Putin gives himself more powers and woe betide those who challenge or stand against him. And Duterte in the Philippines just kills those he dislikes from what I understand.
Watching the “Fourth Estate”, a BBC documentary about the New York Times’ reporting of Trump’s first 100 days, we were reminded of how Trump has insidiously but blatantly tried to turn his people against the free press, describing them as “the enemies of the people”. He questions the expertise and knowledge of academics and those who have worked their way up to senior positions through knowledge, questioning facts and speaking downright lies himself. He sacks anyone who disagrees with him and if one of his staff won’t lie or follow his lead they go. He is endeavouring to build a powerful group of followers around him, the better to build his own power base. This is dangerous stuff.