Editorial: Democratic values for the greater good

4

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. 

Comment policy


Comments posted to The Brown and White website are reviewed by a moderator before being approved. Incendiary speech or harassing language, including comments targeted at individuals, may be deemed unacceptable and not published. Spam and other soliciting will also be declined.

The Brown and White also reserves the right to not publish entirely anonymous comments.

4 Comments

  1. Amy Charles ‘89 on

    One of the ways it got this way was the erosion of the legitimacy and authority of the press. There is essentially no demarcation between WaPo and TikTok and group chats, between content mills and scholarly works. As someone who’s spent most of her adult life online, and who was once as utopian as anyone else about the delights of being able to talk to anyone, anywhere, about anything, I must admit that it has effectively destroyed the authority of the press and the inclination of the country to pay attention to existentially important stories. It was obvious by 1998 that the press’s authority would largely vanish. What was less obvious was how greed and hatred would work together in taking advantage of the vacuum.

    The first newspaper comment sections opened in the early 2000s and were a flailing sort of bid for relevance by what was then called “legitimate media”. And almost immediately the phrase “don’t read the comments” was born. The people running the media, though, saw dollar signs and free content, and despite the fact that they were growing platforms for organized hatred and, eventually, disinformation campaigns, it was impossible to get them to step away from the IPOs and boosts in share price. Instead they said things they didn’t really believe about the “marketplace of ideas”, as though organized hate is some sort of legitimate idea, and kept on collecting the clicks and free content, and it’s long since been de rigueur to have comments with your news. So now we have an internet that, when it’s not porn, is basically a lot of platforms for shouting lies and organizing hate.

    On this site, B&W’s site, easily half the comments are racist, misogynist, victim-blaming, xenophobic or other manifestations of the alumni that share a school with the vulture-capitalist trustees chair. Nearly half the rest are mine, and the balance are aging frat boys shouting because it’s not 1973, or 1983, or something, raarrr frats, give Ric Hall a swirly. Lehigh doesn’t need any of this. It’s not amusing, it’s not a window into anything, it’s not news. (Though now and then it is confirmation to a prospective student or parents that Lehigh is definitely not for them.) You don’t need comments. If we have something to say, we can write letters to you, and you can decide whether or not to run them.

    I’d fully support your shutting down the comments. Don’t make a forum for this stuff. If people want to go around spouting bigotry, let them go find sites specifically made for it. Or let them build the sites themselves. But don’t normalize it as part of civil conversation, not here and not wherever you go next.

    • Robert F Davenport Jr on

      Amy Charles: “On this site, B&W’s site, easily half the comments are racist, misogynist, victim-blaming, xenophobic or other manifestations of the alumni that share a school with the vulture-capitalist trustees chair. Nearly half the rest are mine, and the balance are aging frat boys shouting because it’s not 1973, or 1983, or something, raarrr frats, give Ric Hall a swirly. Lehigh doesn’t need any of this. It’s not amusing, it’s not a window into anything, it’s not news.” OK most of this is mostly true but I disagree with the last two sentences. Sometimes it is amusing to see people make fools of themselves or stating something in a humorous way, whether true or not. It might not be news but is is a window into something. Many people actually believe what they write and they have the ability to easily communicate it, although it may be more emotional than thought out.

      “(Though now and then it is confirmation to a prospective student or parents that Lehigh is definitely not for them.)” If you assume that parents also visit other college newspapers they may experience worse.

      “You don’t need comments. If we have something to say, we can write letters to you, and you can decide whether or not to run them.” I disagree. Comments can be instructive to the writers of articles or add to the information available to the reader. Comments remind me of dinner discussions while at Lehigh.

      “I’d fully support your shutting down the comments. Don’t make a forum for this stuff” I think the “stuff” on The Brown and White site is mild when compared to other sites where differences of opinions are discussed but even so I think writing should be read and processed to determine if it has value and what that value might be.

  2. “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.”

    You guys really need to stop watching MSNBC and broaden your horizons a bit more. Impeachment is always political.

  3. Robert F Davenport Jr on

    “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.” Protestors are not protesting for democracy they are protesting for an agenda and the power to implement it. Voters are also not voting for democracy but for representatives who will carry out their wishes, which representatives either accomplish or try to spin so that it seems as though they have accomplished the agenda. If not they will probably not be re-elected. Our current president has to a fault done or tried to do what he promised during the campaign. Of course our representatives should be doing what is good for the country. That is where the debate should be centered “what is good for the country”.

    President Trump’s enemies have been desirous of impeachment since the 2016 election, for the good of the country, a thought with which approximately 40% of the country disagrees; that does not classify as “for the good of the country” in my view.

    “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.” Many of us remember the President Clinton impeachment effort which had the parties on opposite sides with regard to attack and defense. It was as ridiculous for Clinton to debate the meaning of “is” as it was for Trump as leader of the most powerful nation in the world to say that a request to a dependent nation is not meant to be a quid pro quo.

Leave a Comment

More in Opinion
Edit desk: One month a year, I live in my third world

Most people live two lives—one at home, and one at work or school. But I live a third life, and...

Close