The global move from democracy to autocracy

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The cover of the last issue of the leading German news magazine, Der Spiegel, was a vivid illustration, indicative of one view of Donald Trump that seems to be growing. It showed a beaming Trump surrounded by Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, Xi Jinping and Recep Tayyip Erdogan with the headline “Ich bin das volk,” followed by, “Das zeitalter der autokratenz” — “I am the people: The age of the autocrats.”

On Sunday, the Turkish people, in a nationwide snap election that saw an unprecedented 87% turnout, apparently have given their autocratic President another unprecedented mandate, though final returns won’t be available for some days. Voters had already granted the President more power in a referendum just over a year ago.

These two trips to the polls by Turkish voters confirmed that security and a thriving economy, despite some recent weakness, trump most traditional democratic values. Many nations are beginning to shrug off their longstanding democratic exteriors.

Globally, however, the drift toward strong leaders able to assure prosperity and security is a most dangerous challenge to American principles that have prevailed since the framing of our constitution more than two centuries ago.

In the United States, Trump’s attitude toward displaced refugee children — arguably the greatest and most toxic challenge yet to its hold on power — is the most immediate and vivid evidence that our leader does not champion any sort of effort for America to remain a shining beacon for nations aspiring to maintain or establish a democratic system of government.

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