The seeds of fascism have taken root across the globe, and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright wonders if Americans will stop President Donald Trump in time to lead the world’s fight against it.
In an op-ed for The New York Times, Albright notes that rather than stand firmly against those leaders that make a mockery of democracy and global cooperation, Trump seems to appreciate the bullies of the world.
But that might be because the President of the United States himself regularly mocks and decries democratic norms, not the least of which being America’s free press -- and his isolationist position prevents the United States from participating in solutions that all nations of the world must face together.
Instead of mobilizing international coalitions to take on world problems, he touts the doctrine of “every nation for itself” and has led America into isolated positions on trade, climate change and Middle East peace.
Instead of engaging in creative diplomacy, he has insulted United States neighbors and allies, walked away from key international agreements, mocked multilateral organizations and stripped the State Department of its resources and role.
Instead of standing up for the values of a free society, Mr. Trump, with his oft-vented scorn for democracy’s building blocks, has strengthened the hands of dictators. No longer need they fear United States criticism regarding human rights or civil liberties.
On the contrary, they can and do point to Mr. Trump’s own words to justify their repressive actions.
Albright goes on: Trump has assailed the judiciary; shown contempt for the media; praised torture and condoned police brutality; and encouraged his supporters to use violence against protesters.
He routinely vilifies federal law enforcement institutions. He libels immigrants and the countries from which they come. His words are so often at odds with the truth that they can appear ignorant, yet are in fact calculated to exacerbate religious, social and racial divisions.
Overseas, rather than stand up to bullies, Mr. Trump appears to like bullies, and they are delighted to have him represent the American brand. If one were to draft a script chronicling fascism’s resurrection, the abdication of America’s moral leadership would make a credible first scene.
And so, Albright wonders, will we stop Trump before it’s too late?
Before he takes steps toward North Korea that cannot be undone? Before he can follow through with his threat to abandoned the Iran nuclear agreement? Before his tariffs spark a trade war that sends the world reeling toward a global recession, stealing millions of American jobs along the way?
"What can be done?" she asks.
First, defend the truth. A free press, for example, is not the enemy of the American people; it is the protector of the American people.
Second, we must reinforce the principle that no one, not even the president, is above the law.
Third, we should each do our part to energize the democratic process by registering new voters, listening respectfully to those with whom we disagree, knocking on doors for favored candidates, and ignoring the cynical counsel: “There’s nothing to be done.”
To me, greatness goes a little deeper than how much marble we put in our hotel lobbies and whether we have a Soviet-style military parade. America at its best is a place where people from a multitude of backgrounds work together to safeguard the rights and enrich the lives of all. That’s the example we have always aspired to set and the model people around the world hunger to see. And no politician, not even one in the Oval Office, should be allowed to tarnish that dream.