The U.S. Is Coming Down On the Side of Autocrats

At a private gathering last evening, President Trump praised China’s President Xi Jinping for recently consolidating power. “He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great,” Trump said. “And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.”
Not that any of this is surprising. The president has not hid his affinity for autocrats and autocratic rule. He fawns over strongmen leading China, Russia, Turkey and the Philippines, and frequently scoffs at the weakness of democratic leaders. He’s particularly fond of Putin and has even refused to implement new sanctions required by law, effectively thumbing his nose at the Congress that is controlled by his very own party. Of course, even prior to Trump, America has supported strongmen, although usually not in such a transparent way. In public, we’ve usually towed the party line: that democracy and the will of the people is best. But no longer. The leader of the free world no longer pretends. He’s up front about it. To hell with democracy.


This public posture represents a major turning point in the geopolitical realm and further undermines America’s legitimacy in the world among citizens of the free world and those who aspire to live in the free world. But, again, none of this is surprising. America knew what it was getting when it elected this man.

Right-wing and autocratic forces are on the rise throughout the world, in not only the countries mentioned above but also in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. There was a time when America, at least publicly, stood with the people. No more. It’s the autocrats we now support.

But it is what it is, and we are whom we are. I wish we would have done better for you and your generation, Vera. Perhaps you can help reclaim the mantle of democratic leadership that we so carelessly guarded.

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