Populism will destroy human rights and democracy

Hawaii Intelligence Digest, 13 January 2017, 04:55 hrs, UTC, Post #82.



Reporter:  Kenneth Roth, correspondent for “Foreign Policy” magazine.

Accessed on 13 January 2017, 04:55 hrs, UTC.

Please click link to read the full report.


According to reporter Kenneth Roth, the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States signals the rise of a militant populism that will threaten the existence of democratic republics worldwide. Roth says ultra-nationalistic parties and populist movements, who claim to represent “the people”, are, in fact, opposing basic human rights “as an impediment to their conception of the majority will…”

Populism is thriving in a disjoined world fueled by fear, terrorism, job stagnation, dissatisfaction with the status quo, rapid technological change, and feelings of inequality.  Many ultra-nationalistic groups claim that governments are ignoring the plight of the middle class and those barely surviving on subsistence jobs.

President-elect Donald Trump incorporated these themes into his election campaign and won a surprising victory over the favored Hillary Clinton.

According to reporter Kenneth Roth, the emergence of Donald Trump and others like him in Europe, poses a threat to representative democracies around the world.

“Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign was a vivid illustration of this politics of intolerance. Sometimes overtly, sometimes through code and indirection, he breached basic principles of dignity and equality. He stereotyped migrants, vilified refugees, attacked a judge for his Mexican ancestry, mocked a journalist with disabilities, dismissed multiple allegations of sexual assault, and pledged to roll back women’s ability to control their own fertility.”

“We see a similar scapegoating of asylum-seekers, immigrant communities, and Muslims in Europe. Leading the charge have been Marine Le Pen in France and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, but there are echoes of these arguments of intolerance in the Brexit campaign, the rhetoric of Viktor Orban in Hungary and Jaroslaw Kaczynski in Poland, and far-right parties from Germany to Greece. Throughout the European continent, officials and politicians hark back to distant, even fanciful, times of perceived national ethnic purity, despite established immigrant communities whose integration as productive members of society is undermined by this hostility.”


This cautionary tale from Kenneth Roth should not be ignored.  Once populism is merged with “strongman rule”, we get the scenario of 1920s Italy under Mussolini and 1930s Germany under Hitler. Mr. Trump is not alone in this trend.  Leaders of the Russian Federation and the Peoples Republic of China have refined representative “strongman rule” to an exact science.  It’s too early to tell if Mr. Trump will follow the lead of his Chinese and Russian adversaries.  But the warning is clear:  The danger to our form of representative government is real. We must remain vigilant and take a more active role in our government. Indifference, ignorance, and blind faith will prove costly to the United States and Europe.

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Opinions expressed in this blog are mine unless otherwise stated.

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Until next time,

Russell Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest



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