Let me post some headlines.
“Protesters tear-gassed so Trump can walk to church” – the #1 article being viewed on BBC news right now.
“Trump threatens to deploy troops to stop protests” – the #1 article on the German news site dw.com right now. The accompanying picture is Trump holding the bible.
“AMBASSADOR SPEAKS OUT: US addresses Sunrise ‘mistreatment” – that’s the top article at Australia’s top news site, news.com.au, their equivalent of Fox News. It refers to a filmed clip of a Washington, DC policeman targeting an Australian news crew, pushing over the reporter and punching the cameraman.
These are headlines which directly address the role America plays in the world.
The damage being done right now to America’s prestige is incalculable. Other countries are familiar with the back-and-forth of liberal vs. conservative parties and the shifts in domestic and foreign policy which accompany them. They know about this because in many cases, they have adopted similar governmental structures to America’s, and they have done so specifically because our government has worked so well. In an international version of federalism, what has been shown to succeed has been adopted elsewhere.
We are being shown as abandoning basic freedoms in pursuit of a strongman leader, and as with all strongmen, they’re not truly strong; they instead rely on violence and assumed authority to keep their populace in line. This breaks the exact promise that the American system implied: that governments operate by the will of the people.
We will get past this. As a nation, we have a remarkably short memory. Many people will not care about this day or this action weeks from now, much less months from now. But for people around the world, America has been a beacon. It’s been Reagan’s “shining city on a hill”. That shine is dimming.
One of the greatest proponents of Reagan’s foreign policy has been Garry Kasparov. He grew up under the oppression of the Soviet Union, and became the world’s chess champion due to his brilliance and ability to predict moves and maneuvers before they happened. He has since transitioned to living in the United States and leading a large human rights organization. He has made his admiration for Reagan clear in book after book, aggressively defending the President’s actions both on the large international scale and explaining how it affected him on a personal level.
He was fiercely opposed to Obama. He made clear that Obama was the worst President for international human rights that we’d had in more than a century. He has since made clear that Trump is far worse yet. In these times, he’s left with reminding people how countries slip into authoritarianism and dictatorships.
This is the base from which we’re going to have to rebuild. It isn’t going to be done by shifting over to elevate Obama, who, as noted, was recently a nightmare on human rights. It needs to be done by actively rejecting the authoritarianism of Trump and also returning to policies like those of Reagan, Thatcher and John Paul II. Until we do so we are going to continue to betray our founders and the God-given rights – rights that all people, not simply Americans, are meant to have by dint of their mere existence – we claim to cherish.