Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin or Recep Erdogan are concerning signs for the global trend of people’s growing desire for „strong“ Leaders. Men who promise to change the world by their personal, infinite capacity …
Yesterday’s referendum in Turkey was just another strong indication for a global trend among citizens around the world: The call for a strong leader who has the personal capacity to change the nation (the world) to the better.
The recent election of Donald Trump as Commander in Chief of the United States of America, the established autocracy of Vladimir Putin in Russia, the unprecedented powers of Xi Jinping as President of China and General Secretary of its communist party or the recent constitutional change in Turkey to enhance President Erdogan’s powers are worrying examples.
Many voters elect candidates who promise to reduce democratic rights once they are in power. Donald Trump’s wall and Muslim ban, Erdogan’s reopening of the death penalty discussion or many the things Putin did during his tenure illustrate that tendency. Around the world „Law and Order“ might be the most successful campaign-promise of our time.
These guys – with their bigger than life ego – promise to solve people’s problems by their sheer capacity as leaders, their big vision and their easy-to-understand plan.
Donald Trump has no track record yet.
If we have a look at Putin we will find out that his „figures“ when it comes to GDP, industrialization or living standards are impressive. We can’t deny that there was a steep development of Russia’s economy as well as its national security during Putin’s tenure. On the other hand we cannot and must not deny that there was a clear decrease of democratic standards happening. Multiple assassinated journalist who was known for being critical against the Kremlin or the killing of a Russian spy in London with radioactive material and many, many other events are concerning.
Similar with Erdogan: The economic rise of the area surrounding Istanbul is impressive. But many other indicators that make a civil society are on the downturn. The secular separation of government and religion invented in Turkey by Kemal Atatürk is eroding and the increasing influence of Islam on education and other pillars of society are undeniable. After the failed coup last year more than 35.000 people have been arrested. Most of them officers of the military, judges and prosecutors, teachers and professors and many others who could be considered important pillars of civil society.
But obviously Russian and Turkish voters are willing to make a trade off. They trade freedom against safety!
And it looks like if a good portion of the Americans who elected Donald Trump as their President have the same desire: a strong man who takes care of their safety – if necessary at the cost of their civil rights.
From my point of view the reason for this unreasonable behavior is that people around the world became fundamentally afraid of growing economic and societal insecurities.
Financial crisis, migration, terror and globalization and its worrying impact on working class are predominant issues of our times.
Instead of discussing the incredible potentials of our time with its innovations and possibilities most of us are focussing on the potential downsides. People learned to see the threat and forgot about the opportunity.
And that’s what makes those dealers of fear – like Trump, Erdogan or Putin – so successful. Because their success is built on the people’s fear of the future. And they pretend – repeating their simple answers to complicated matters – that its only them who can protect from this future’s dangers, threats and traps.
Unfortunately, Ladies and Gentlemen, this is non-sense!
Almost any historic example shows us that accumulation of powers within the hands of a single person leads to significant structural problems and to a decrease of quality in decision-making over time.
It’s the checks and balances that make societies successful and its leaders working and preventing them of making irreparable mistakes. By preventing Donald Trump’s Muslim ban from happening American federal judges gave a great demonstration of the importance of those checks and balances and prevented a irreversible mistake from happening.
By yesterday’s referendum in Turkey and its democratic acceptance, the Turkish people decided that the checks and balances of Recep Erogan’s power are going to be significantly lowered and his personal direct impact on Turkey’s society and its government will be further enhanced. It was the will of the Turkish people to reduce their own democratic influence and hand it over to a single man.
That is what makes me concerned because we see this trend around the world. And I ask myself what would happen if we’d ask for a democratic decision to remove democracy at all …