Authoritarians showing up democratic leaders

Authoritarians showing up democratic leaders

Monday, April 06, 2020

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Dear Editor,

As the saying goes, “After a storm there must be a calm,” I strongly believe that after the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is over, and people of other lands decide to get back to business as usual, one particular country or an influential figure will be credited for an effort that is worth recognition.

I believe that it will be Xi Jinping of China — unfortunately, for democracy.

Although China's growth was slowing snappishly before the coronavirus put world growth on hold, Xi continued to project power with his Belt and Road Initiative and his decision to limit his bullying to Hong Kong and Southeast Asian countries.

In the meantime, US President Donald Trump has literally abandoned America's role as a moral leader and has made no effort to keep America involved in shaping the world for anyone's benefit but his own, in my assessment.

Although it's a world effort, China has become the standard in combating the virus pandemic with its prompt travel bans and reported effective levels of containment, while the US and Italy, for example, have fumbled the effort.

The danger to democracy is that soon the “Chinese model” of authoritarian rule will gain appeal. It has shown that such a system can provide quick response at a time when instant global communication and the globalisation of trade and travel makes possible the rapid spread of danger.

Whether China continuously provides a response that benefits the world is definitely up to Beijing in that pursuit. But if I were to list the top influential rulers of the world today, then it would be:

1) Xi Jinping — a leader with an economic and tactical purpose

2) Angela Merkel — damaged in Germany but other nations trust and respect her

3) Vladimir Putin — pushy enough in the region to make other world leaders worried

4) King Mohammed bin Salman — has anyone noticed the oil prices lately?

5) Donald Trump — but only influential by his absence

Does this mean democracy is a model whose time has passed? Certainly, I don't think so, but well-thinking Americans may begin to realise that some kind of 'qualification process' is needed in selecting a national leader. As it appears, what would prevent a billionaire, movie star, or a comedian from running for president of the United States? I would think a better requirement could be that you have run a public entity or have served in a major legal body and also have the ability to listen and take advice from others before attempting to attain national leadership.

But the US, UK, France, and Italy are stuck with the democracies they have, while exposing their weaknesses.

Charlie Brown

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