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

Horses from Victoria Carriage Tours involved in second incident in three months

Witnesses: Horses veered into a parked vehicle, smashing windows, climbing onto roof with front hooves

Stolen Search and Rescue dog harness replaced by donation

Moxxii’s specialized harness was stolen at the Pet-A-Palooza festival

Seaplane flights cancelled between Victoria and Vancouver due to smoke

Harbour Air has grounded flights travelling through the Georgia Strait

First stores open in Victoria’s expanded Mayfair shopping centre

Construction project will add about 100,000 square feet of retail space and 400 parking stalls

Smoke from wildfires delivers jolt to Greater Victoria air quality

Online map collects air quality from home monitors

PHOTOS: Puppy love makes a splash at St. Ann’s Academy

Puppies stampede, dive and do yoga at Victoria’s largest outdoor pet festival

Former Trump aide Paul Manafort found guilty of eight charges

A mistrial has been declared for the other 10 charges against him

Canada’s team chasing elusive gold medal at women’s baseball World Cup

Canada, ranked No. 2 behind Japan, opens play Wednesday against No. 10 Hong Kong

Former B.C. detective gets 20 months in jail for kissing teen witnesses

James Fisher, formerly with Vancouver police department, pleaded guilty to three charges in June

Former B.C. premier Christy Clark criticizes feds for buying pipeline

The $4.5 billion purchase of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline second worst decision, she said

New B.C. Hydro electric car chargers launch on Vancouver Island

Fast-chargers to reduce ‘range anxiety’ for B.C. electric car drivers

‘Takes more courage to fail’: B.C. ultra-marathon swimmer reflects on cancelled try at record

Susan Simmons halted her swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back because of hypothermia

Animals moved from B.C. Interior shelters to make way for pets displaced by wildfires

The Maple Ridge SPCA houses animals to make space for pets evacuated from B.C.’s burning interior.

$21.5 million medical pot plant to be built in B.C.

The facility is to be built in Princeton

Most Read