Democracy is the worst form of government…
…except for all the others — Winston S. Churchill
I was reminded of this quote this week, in the face of Trump’s electoral victory.
I dislike Trump and all that he stands for, and will not go in to the reasons why. Many others have done so, much more eloquently than I could.
But as much as I dislike him, I feel an obligation to abide by the process that elected him. So far, it does not seem like there is any evidence of widespread fraud in these elections. If that is indeed the case, then he is the lawfully elected president, and must be accepted and given a chance to move his agenda forward.
The same goes for all that voted for him — they must get a chance to see how the person they voted performs as president.
Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. But because of the electoral college system in the US, she lost the election. This is unfortunate, and I’d love for that to not be the case, but it is too late to change that for these elections.
It can be changed, though, for future elections. The “National Popular Vote” campaign has a plan that sounds realistic and is already in motion.
In the meantime, we must trust that the checks and balances that exist in our democracy will be sufficient to protect us, individually and as a nation, from some of the scary ideas put forward by Trump during his campaign. It will certainly be a difficult test for the American democracy, but I am hopeful that it is up for the task.
Many say that similar sentiments have been expressed when Hitler took power during the Weimar Republic, the German republic created in the wake of the first world war, whose democratic process Hitler used to gain power, only to later abolish it and assume absolute control over Germany. There are similarities — in both cases a power hungry, racist, bigoted, mentally disturbed white leader with an inferiority complex and with little respect for democracy uses the democratic process to gain power.
But there are important differences — the Weimar Republic was a much younger democracy, with much weaker protections, compared to the nearly 250 years and strong democratic institutions in the US. The German People did not have generations of democratic rule to look back to, and Hitler had a well articulated world domination plan. Trump, in contrast, doesn’t seem to have much of a plan for the immediate future, let alone anything as far reaching as Mein Kampf.
Perhaps Trump is part of a larger pattern of discontent with the established ruling class in the west. Brexit in the UK, Arduan in Turkey, Marine Le Pan’s ascent in France and Putin’s continued rule in Russia are all examples where rhetoric similar to that of Trump is used to ride a wave of fear, nationalism and xenophobia to power.
The post-WWII world order is changing, and those who fail to adapt to the change, risk becoming irrelevant.
What does that means for Liberal Humanists in the US?
As a start, try listening to people like Bernie Sanders the next time around.