Joe Biden’s big gambit

Our planet is in the grip of a worldwide pandemic. No, I’m not referring in this instance to coronavirus. I’m referring to the slow but ineluctable spread of fascism. It’s a trend or idea or ideology that is spreading like the cultural analog of a lethal disease: from person to person and nation to nation.

Freedom House, a human rights organization that measures tyranny in the governments of the world, has for 15 years tracked the steady decline of human freedom. Countries take their cues from each other, and America’s recent experiment in fascism with the Trump administration has emboldened and encouraged authoritarian regimes across the globe.

Against that trend President Joe Biden is bringing more than one hundred governments together for the “Summit for Democracy,” which runs 9 to 10 December, 2021. It is to be a consortium on how best to combat the great harm tyrannical governments cause. It is hoped that the summit will reignite the belief that democratic governments are not only essential for human happiness but necessary for our survival as a species.

Governments watch how other governments behave and often take their cues from each other. Success breeds success, and when democracy is successful worldwide it becomes the popular model.

Trump didn’t just harm Americans. He showed the world that an ignorant, intolerant, bigoted government run by a cult leader is not only possible in the United States but was embraced by many of its citizens. The “them and us” mentality that is the hallmark of Trumpism rapidly became the blueprint going forward in other countries as well. Donald Trump didn’t merely admire dictators. Many dictators also admired him.

The best way to combat these ideas is to throw light on them. Despotism is the enemy of truth and the friend of concealment. We see it unfolding right now in microcosm during the January 6th Committee investigation. No one hates to be investigated more than criminals. By exposing the evils of despotic governments and shining the light of science and fair governance on the world’s problems, many of our planet’s most vexing conundrums — such as global warming, intolerance, injustice, oppression and the worldwide coronavirus pandemic — can be ameliorated if not solved outright.

   

After its conclusion the President’s summit will reconvene in a year to assess the progress of its goals. It’s an ambitious program and will no doubt be known more for what it did not achieve than what it did. But President Biden’s Summit for Democracy is a step in the right direction, and the road to healing and sanity always begins with a first step, no matter how small that step may appear. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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