Complacency is the enemy of democracy. I think that many do not realize the dangers of recognizing autocrats (dictators, despots, tyrants) as legitimate entities that are worthy of sharing the world stage with the United States and its allies. Maybe many do not understand what it would mean to live in an autocracy like Russia. Even though Russia claims to be a democracy, it is not. An autocracy is a system of government in which one person has absolute power and is unaccountable to the law and the citizenry. In Putin’s Russia, political opponents are murdered or sent to Siberia and put behind bars for decades, minority rights are suppressed, opposition is quashed, foreign territory is forcefully annexed, the courts are corrupt, the right to free assembly and other civil rights is limited, police intimidation is promoted and the media is state-run. There is no freedom of speech nor the right to bear arms. And Putin has taken the wealth of the country for himself and his friends, the Russian Oligarchs, while the Russian people suffer.
On the other hand, a democracy is ruled by the people:
- no one is above the law as the Constitution limits power
- has a system of checks and balances
- provides separation of powers divided among the executive, legislative and judicial branches
- gives power to the people
- provides personal freedom and protection and equality under the law as guaranteed by the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the laws
- power is divided between national and state governments
I think it is easy for Americans to take these democratic attributes for granted as we enjoy so much freedom. Maybe we would not truly realize what we have until we have lost it. This is the first time in my life that I fear the loss of our democracy due to the actions of Donald Trump. Between his shameful behavior with our allies and his kowtowing to Putin, I feel he is not exercising his duty to uphold the Constitution of the United States. For some reason, President Trump has said “I’ve always felt fine about Putin. He’s a strong leader. He’s a powerful leader.” Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were also strong and powerful leaders, but they also murdered millions of their citizens.
Trump does not see Russia as an enemy of democracy, but only as a business opportunity. He wants in on the riches stolen from the Russian people by Putin and the oligarchs. His ignorance of history, the Constitution and the law makes he himself a very dangerous enemy of democracy. We need to exercise our democratic rights to hold the legislative branch accountable to the people by voting for congressmen/women and senators who will not be complicit to the atrocities committed by this president and who will uphold the Constitution.