Voting to Kill Democracy, Colltalers
It’s a relatively new trend and it’s all the rage among would-be authoritarian rulers. Encouraged by what’s happened in the U.S. and elsewhere, they’ve caught another promising break yesterday in France. This may be the dawn of a new, dreadful time: dictators voted into office.
An army, to stage a coup, or a party machine, to funnel cash, seem now obsolete. All it takes is a media-savvy campaign, a populist platform of discontent, warnings against external threats, and job-stealing immigrants, and voilà, practically any (rich) person can now be a president.
Some say it’s the Putin way, as the Russian leader can claim that his ‘mandate’ was earned in the polls. And as such, it worked for Turkey’s Recep Erdogan too. In Brazil and South Korea, the power grab used legislative tricks to unseat presidents, all with some popular approval.
To be fair, none of it is completely new, and there’s no need to go beyond 1930s Germany, to prove it. But since the millennium, there’s a new consolidation of power that has become more common, and it is its own animal, concerning both seated and would-be ‘by-the-book’ leaders.
In the 20th century, it was common for rulers to remain in power for generations, specially in Asia and Africa, where they’d perform as loyal servers to Western interests. While the American electoral process had more subtle ways of maintaining the political status quo, and kept its Democracy functional, West-propped up dictators had carte blanch to get rich and oppress their people as long as they remained aligned.
That was the time when popular leaders rarely won, and to prevent disrupting the colonial order, were routinely assassinated when running for or while in office. That somehow changed with the independence wars of the second half of the century, but not by much. The new crop of pro-West leaders, who turned into long-term rulers, ran hundreds of newly named nations, which were just as impoverished as before.
Real change, or rather, reversal to a bygone time, as well as exposure to the inner workings of the world, circa 20th century, happened with the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and resulting killing of Saddan Hussein. Suddenly, ancient tribes and ethnicities kept at bay by Hussein, were unleashed and eager to regain their space. Similar situation may be playing out in Syria today, with predictable bloodshed as a result.
It’s a new era, when presidents get to rise to power no longer by bloody or lengthy battles, but with the support of those they successfully con into believing they’re the only answer. Religion used to fulfill this role, but apart from Iran’s theocracy, Continue reading