The past few weeks in the news have been particularly troubling—democracy seems to be trending in a downward spiral. Around the world, headlines share similar themes of instability and confusion.
In the United States, President Trump has been at the center of impeachment hearings regarding his interactions with Ukraine. It has been the talk of the town in the media for weeks now, coming before a pivotal crossroads in the months leading up to the 2020 presidential election.
Domestic politics have never been more polarized, with the hearings coming at the culmination of plenty of scrutiny against the Trump Administration for its recent questionable domestic and foreign policy decisions.
But impeachment is bigger than left versus right, and it’s bigger than the general scope of politics. To be in a situation where a president faces impeachment represents a total failure to appreciate and comprehend our democratic values.
The left has had a field day criticizing the Trump Administration. But if a Democrat was facing an impeachment probe, we would hope to see the right getting just as worked up. This isn’t to further drive a wedge between the two parties. This is to ensure that everyone across the country holds our leaders to the highest standards, regardless of their political affiliation.
This is beyond polarized politics. This is the spirit of our country on the line.
But these democratic values our leaders should be grasping are not just bound to the domestic sphere of influence. On four of seven continents, we witness stories united along a similar thread—chaos. Leadership is failing the people, and it comes with serious implications. Unemployment, prison and even death on the line.
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted on charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust multiple times.
In Bolivia, former President Evo Morales was forced into exile by the military after a sketchy election cast shadows over his legitimacy. Deputy president of the Bolivian senate, Jeanine Áñez, seized leadership of the country.
In Hong Kong, violent pro-democracy protests have nearly reached half a year after a controversial extradition bill was introduced. Now, protesters demand elections and probes into police brutality.
In Iran, government-imposed internet shutdowns took place amid bloody protests expressing grievances with the state.
Individuals who risk everything to protest, standing up for democracy, should be commended and applauded. If their leaders won’t practice good democratic principles, the citizens will.
It’s quite disheartening to look across the world and see reports of governments taking advantage of the citizens’ trust. They are elected officials because the public believed they would best represent their values. They are elected officials because the public believed in democracy, and believed in an institution greater than themselves.
Betraying this trust and these values is completely disappointing and disrespectful. For leaders to think they are above the law is just outrageous.
Going forward, it’s crucial to look at headlines across the world and wonder how it got to this point. The status quo should be rooted in order, not mayhem.
At the very least, good journalism and documentation should continue to expose corruption and facilitate civic involvement. Our leadership is left completely unchecked when citizens don’t even know where to look for distrust.
The five examples above should be seen as instances of extreme governmental and administrative failures. As we begin to close this decade heading into the final few weeks, we should be looking towards 2020 as a promising start to a new era.
We need to hold our leaders, ourselves and each other to the highest standards. These should not be partisan issues, but rather greater societal issues.