COLUMN: B.C. mayor takes on Trump

Summerland Mayor Peter Waterman calls statements Trump disturbing

Like many others who pay some attention to the state of world affairs, I have become alarmed at the rise of authoritarianism throughout the world.

Populist leaders throughout the world have risen to prominence and are threatening democracy. Hence a recent headline in the Economist entitled How Democracy Dies.

In this article examinations of indices of the health of democracy show “alarming deterioration since the financial crisis of 2007-08.”

One study by the Economist Intelligent Unit (a sister firm of the Economist) showed 89 countries regressing in 2017 with only 27 improving.

There are several definitions of “Populism.”

One sees it as a political strategy in which a charismatic leader appeals to the masses while sweeping aside institutions.

The range of issues crosses the ideological spectrum from the extreme right wing to the far left.

Through the 1930s during and after the great depression, Adolf Hitler rose to power using the power of fear and rhetoric to push aside democratic norms.

In the United States, the president has unleashed vigorous attacks on the judiciary system, the press and the security system as well as the rhetoric of fear to debase and dehumanize minority groups.

President Trump’s outrageous hyperbole and trashing of world order is unprecedented and is very disturbing.

As far as some are concerned these are the first steps towards authoritarian rule.

I was shocked at the power of executive orders issued by the president, but article two of the U.S. constitution vests executive power in the president, which gives him the power to oversee and direct various aspects of the executive branch, but he must not act in opposition to the law.

The checks and balances built into the system should preserve the democratic system, but only if individuals and government bodies have the courage to address such overreach.

I believe that President Trump’s rhetoric, has lowered the bar to what now seems the norm for civility, misinformation and facts and what is accepted in the public realm.

This approach to discussion and communication has spread.

Anybody now uses social media to quickly and effectively spread misleading and false information to pressure larger community groups and elected officials.

Individuals and groups can feel intimidated from speaking their opinions, business groups feel threatened and will not speak out for fear of boycotts.

This is also called bullying on an individual and a community-wide basis.

These activities threaten democratic process and effective, honest open discussion.

When this occurs, the whole community loses.

Peter Waterman is the mayor of Summerland.

Just Posted

Update: North Beach clam harvest closed due to PSP biotoxin

Marine biotoxin results in closure for all bivalve harvesting from Wiah Point to Rose Spit

In Pictures: Rock the Plank! brings in the booty

Pirate-themed skate party raises $2,500 for new Masset Skate Society

Haida Gwaii fishing grounds are key to survival of northern resident killer whales: DFO

Plan marks waters from Langara to Rose Spit as critical habitat for northern resident killer whales

Masset suggests a simpler structure for Gwaii Trust

Change would parallel existing municipal, regional district representation for non-Haida communities

Grade 9s on Gwaii Haanas trip visit “the best spot on Haida Gwaii”

Now in its fourth year, Grade 9 trip gives Haida Gwaii youth a chance to visit Tanu and Windy Bay

Through your lens: Okanagan wildfires

Check out some of the captivating images and video from social media of the wildfires

BC Games: Opening Ceremony from Laketown Ranch

Hundreds of athletes and thousands of volunteers, coaches, parents and officials

World’s translators push back on forcing Trump interpreter to testify

Democrats had asked translator to testify about Trump’s lengthy conversation with Putin in Helsinki

No decision on B.C. school stabbing suspect’s mental fitness for trial

The BC Review Board could not determine whether Gabriel Klein, 21, is fit to stand trial

Canadian government threatens to retaliate if Trump imposes auto tariffs

U.S president had suggested that auto imports pose a national security risk to the U.S.

Wildfire evacuation order forces bride to search for new wedding venue

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards is under an order due to the Mount Eneas wildfire south of Peachland

Recent online kitten abuse video raises serious social media questions

UBC and UFV profs weigh in on the subject of online sharing, shaming, and our digital landscape

UPDATED: ICBC fights back against claims that it’s ‘ripping off’ B.C. RV drivers

Canadian Taxpayers Federation is urging the provincial government to open up ICBC to competition

Summerland issues State of Local Emergency in response to wildfire

Two homes under evacuation order; evacuation alert remains in place as result of wildfire

Most Read