COLUMN: B.C. mayor takes on Trump

Summerland Mayor Peter Waterman calls statements Trump disturbing

Like many others who pay some attention to the state of world affairs, I have become alarmed at the rise of authoritarianism throughout the world.

Populist leaders throughout the world have risen to prominence and are threatening democracy. Hence a recent headline in the Economist entitled How Democracy Dies.

In this article examinations of indices of the health of democracy show “alarming deterioration since the financial crisis of 2007-08.”

One study by the Economist Intelligent Unit (a sister firm of the Economist) showed 89 countries regressing in 2017 with only 27 improving.

There are several definitions of “Populism.”

One sees it as a political strategy in which a charismatic leader appeals to the masses while sweeping aside institutions.

The range of issues crosses the ideological spectrum from the extreme right wing to the far left.

Through the 1930s during and after the great depression, Adolf Hitler rose to power using the power of fear and rhetoric to push aside democratic norms.

In the United States, the president has unleashed vigorous attacks on the judiciary system, the press and the security system as well as the rhetoric of fear to debase and dehumanize minority groups.

President Trump’s outrageous hyperbole and trashing of world order is unprecedented and is very disturbing.

As far as some are concerned these are the first steps towards authoritarian rule.

I was shocked at the power of executive orders issued by the president, but article two of the U.S. constitution vests executive power in the president, which gives him the power to oversee and direct various aspects of the executive branch, but he must not act in opposition to the law.

The checks and balances built into the system should preserve the democratic system, but only if individuals and government bodies have the courage to address such overreach.

I believe that President Trump’s rhetoric, has lowered the bar to what now seems the norm for civility, misinformation and facts and what is accepted in the public realm.

This approach to discussion and communication has spread.

Anybody now uses social media to quickly and effectively spread misleading and false information to pressure larger community groups and elected officials.

Individuals and groups can feel intimidated from speaking their opinions, business groups feel threatened and will not speak out for fear of boycotts.

This is also called bullying on an individual and a community-wide basis.

These activities threaten democratic process and effective, honest open discussion.

When this occurs, the whole community loses.

Peter Waterman is the mayor of Summerland.

Just Posted

Nanaimo-Ladysmith Liberal candidate Michelle Corfield speaks on Indigenous issues

Corfield pledges to be a receptive partner in parliament for local First Nations

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Section of Island Highway north of Nanaimo isn’t safe

I hope politicians will do something about this issue, says letter writer

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Latest scam going around claims credit card misuse

Scam involves someone calling to report fictitious purchases on a credit card, says letter writer

Proposed 76-unit residential development would neighbour north Nanaimo mall

Council approves first and second reading of re-zoning application for 4961 Songbird Pl.

Map on Elections Canada site sends voters to Cedar landfill

Address for polling station correct, but Google Map address differs

VIDEO: Langley woman’s security camera records its own theft

Langley family discovers early morning grab was recorded

‘My heart goes out to the mother’: B.C. dad reacts to stabbing death of Ontario boy

Carson Crimeni, who was also 14, was bullied relentlessly, his dad says

BC Ferries filling up fast with post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Monday anticipated to be busiest day of the weekend

‘Wham-bam out the door’: Surrey man’s front yard left ruined by scamming landscaper

Resident warns neighbours to be careful of door-to-door salesmen

The one with the ‘Friends’ photoshoot: Kelowna group recreates TV show intro

A friend’s departure prompted them to create something that really says, “I’ll be there for you”

B.C.’s rural paramedic program expands, with home support

Advanced care ambulance staff added for six communities

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes before air show in Atlanta

Pilot lands safely after ejecting from jet

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

Vancouver Island doctor rushed to help Hurricane Dorian victims days after his retirement

Potts was asked by Samaritan’s Purse to help at a field hospital in Freeport

Most Read