Hopes for advancing democracy, liberal values confront harsh facts


These are tough days for enthusiasts of the world’s steady march of democracy, David Sanger writes for The New York Times:

A wave of nationalism — led by calls to raise the drawbridges against outsiders and their influence — has ushered in strongmen in places where, just a few years ago, democratic institutions seemed inevitably on the rise. Across the globe, the effects are clear: When nativism becomes a rallying call, tolerance and a willingness to compromise, the lubricants of liberal democracy, often seep away.

Liberal values in general are also under assault, adds Serge Schmemman:

Some claim that the Western forms of democracy are unsuitable for their societies, and that to argue otherwise is a form of cultural imperialism. Some claim that authoritarian rule is a more familiar and efficient form of “democracy” in less developed parts of the world. Some argue that democracy includes the right to maintain the purity of a national identity. In the most extreme challenge, an Islamist fringe perceives Western democracy as an evil that justifies the most repugnant violence.

But then democracy has always been in peril. It exists to give people control over those who wield power, and those who have power often want more. In recent months alone we have witnessed a deeply troubling American presidential campaign; the dubious impeachment of the president of Brazil; a vote in Britain to leave the European Union; and more.


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