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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/12/19

This problem is a GLOBAL problem

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One of the great crises facing the global community today is that democracy, the right of ordinary people to control their own lives, is on the defensive while authoritarianism is growing stronger.

And at its root is the fact that a handful of incredibly wealthy people are exerting enormous economic and political power over the planet. Unbelievably, in the global economy today, the top 1 percent owns more wealth than the bottom 99 percent, and a handful of billionaires own more than the bottom half of people around the world that's 3.7 billion people.

That is the reality.

People in our own country, and around the world, are angry and betrayed, and they feel that nobody is listening to their pain.

And one of the results of that reality is that in Europe, in Russia, in the Middle East, in Asia and elsewhere we are seeing movements led by demagogues who exploit people's fears, prejudices and grievances to achieve and hold onto power.

Next week, Donald Trump is set to welcome one of those leaders into the White House: Hungary's far-right authoritarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orba'n.

Now, I have always found it very strange that Trump has such a hard time getting along with leaders of the world's major democracies but feels very comfortable with authoritarians like Orba'n, Putin, Xi Jinping, Bolsonaro and Mohammad bin Salman.

But the truth is, while they all differ in some respects, they share a number of key attributes: hostility toward democratic norms, antagonism toward a free press, intolerance toward ethnic and religious minorities, and a belief that government should benefit their own selfish financial interests.

This trend certainly did not begin with Trump, but there's no question that authoritarian leaders around the world have drawn inspiration from the fact that the leader of the world's oldest and most powerful democracy seems to delight in shattering democratic norms.

Other authoritarian states are much farther along this kleptocratic process. In Russia, it is impossible to tell where the decisions of government end and the interests of Vladimir Putin and his circle of oligarchs begin. They operate as one unit. Similarly, in Saudi Arabia, there is no debate about separation because the natural resources of the state, valued at trillions of dollars, belong to the Saudi royal family. In Hungary, far-right authoritarian leader Viktor Orba'n is openly allied with Putin in Russia. In China, an inner circle led by Xi Jinping has steadily consolidated power, clamping down on domestic political freedom while it aggressively promotes a version of authoritarian capitalism abroad.

So the question is: Where do we go from here?

To effectively oppose right-wing authoritarianism, we cannot simply go back to the failed status quo of the last several decades. In order to fight this trend, we need to strengthen the global coalition of progressive democrats.

While authoritarians promote division and hatred, we promote unity, inclusion, and an agenda based on economic, social, racial, and environmental justice.

The people of the world must come together to end the absurdity of rich and multinational corporations stashing over $21 trillion in offshore bank accounts to avoid paying their fair share of taxes and then demanding that their respective governments impose an austerity agenda on their working families.

It is not acceptable that the fossil fuel industry continues to make huge profits while their carbon emissions destroy the planet for our children and grandchildren.

It is not acceptable that a handful of multinational media giants, owned by a small number of billionaires, largely control the flow of information on the planet.

It is not acceptable that trade policies that benefit large multinational corporations and encourage a race to the bottom hurt working people throughout the world as they are written out of public view.

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Bernie Sanders is the independent U.S. Senator from Vermont. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. He is a member of the Senate's Budget, Veterans, Environment, Energy, and H.E.L.P. (Health, Education, (more...)
 

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