Is authoritarianism trending in the West?

Neil Murphy, Staff Writer

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The Western world has served as the center of democratic ideals, especially after World War II. Now it seems like the age-old enemy of democracy is making a comeback, and its name is authoritarianism.

Hear me out. We clearly aren’t seeing the rise of a one-party state or the abolishment of presidential term limits, but there are clear signs that presidents of many western countries are dabbling in authoritarian ideals.

For instance, if you take a look at Brazil, they are about to show how democracy dies: with thunderous applause. Jair Bolsonaro, a right-wing nationalist known as the “Brazilian Trump,” just recently got inaugurated as the fifth president of Brazil. He was a captain in the army during the reign of the Brazilian military dictatorship.

He often built his campaign on very controversial opinions as being anti-LGBT, anti-climate change, etc. He especially defends the past military dictatorship. He went so far to even express the dictatorships time in power as “glorious.”

In a way that can be seen as how “nostalgic” he is about the old days, he also enlisted General Antonio Hamilton Mourão as his running mate. General Mourão stated in September of 2017 that the military could seize power if certain policies were not met. This isn’t a government official we should have associated with the United States.

In the United States you can see parallels with our own current government and even our president Donald Trump. I will be using a checklist published online through Princeton University, known as the “Authoritarian Checklist,” which will highlight common authoritarian actions – some of which the president has done.

The first part that I want to point out will be “the persecution of an ethnic or religious minority, either by the administration or its supporters.” You can see this with the policies put in place by the Trump administration, such as the border wall, the Muslim travel ban, etc.

The second I will be pointing out will be is the “loss of press access to the White House.” This was clearly observed with the incident regarding Jim Acosta having to go to court to get his access back a few months ago in the White House, or even Jorge Ramos. This is because of the “fake news” stigma between all news organizations who don’t sugar coat the White House.

The last one I will point out, despite there being so much more to cover, will be the “made-up charges against those who disagree with the government.” When it came out that Hillary Clinton was cleared twice in regards to her email scandals, Trump still called for her arrest and others who didn’t agree with him. Another instance can be seen with his “widespread voter fraud” claims, even without evidence to back up those claims.

Now, this does not mean the citizens of the United States will wake up one day to a fascist America or see the rise of a military dictatorship in an allied foreign power. However, the individuals in office seem to be showing an interest in authoritarian actions and powers.

The best part of acting against this is to be sure to be informed on the candidates/incumbents and their plans/actions. For all we know, we may end up with a Bolsonaro running for candidacy in the United States. How can we prevent individuals who dabble in authoritarianism reaching public offices? To put it in the simplest way: vote.

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