President Trump is a threat to freedom and democracy not only at home but abroad as well. His indifference to human rights, his adversarial approach to democracy, and his threat to freedom provide autocrats around the world the cover they need to continue to commit abuses against democracy and human rights. Under President Trump’s watch, the United States shirked its responsibility as a global leader, opening the door for autocratic countries like China and Russia to attack democracy and freedom unabated.
Following the end of World War II, the United States had the economic, diplomatic, and military power to lead the world toward a more peaceful and free future. The United States helped to organize the United Nations as well as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and other supranational organizations seeking to maintain stability and peace. Ever since, the United States has been the leading global superpower on almost every international issue from mediating peace talks to energy sustainability. The United States occupies a coveted spot on the global stage, one which President Trump is squandering to foes who do not respect freedom or democracy.
China should consider declaring a national holiday if Trump wins reelection, for no one has accelerated China’s rise in the last four years more than Donald Trump. Refusing to join the Trans Pacific Partnership, alienating allies in the Pacific region, starting a trade war, and believing Chinese leader Xi Jinping on the coronavirus are only a few of the things President Trump has done to weaken the U.S. and ensure China’s rise. China might as well stop its cyberattacks and its theft of American intellectual property because Donald Trump is causing more damage than they could ever imagine. President Trump has ensured the United States is weaker economically, has fewer friends, and is less able to respond to China’s aggressive actions, such as its takeover of Hong Kong.
President Trump even considers the Chinese Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping his friend, joining the likes of brutal dictators and authoritarians Vladimir Putin, Mohammed bin Salman, and Kim Jong-un. Xi is a man who runs concentration camps for over one million Uighur Muslims. In these camps, Uighur Muslims experience forced sterilization, are forced to give up their culture, and forced to betray their religious ideals. The suffering faced by the Uighurs presents the United States with what should be an easy diplomatic layup. All the U.S. has to do is form a coalition of democratic countries to pressure the Chinese Communist Party to stop what it’s doing and sanction those responsible. By leading on this effort the United States would not only attempt to ease the suffering of the Uighurs but it would also show to the world that while China is a pariah, the United States is a champion of freedom and a reliable partner.
The president decided not to do that and instead offered his approval, telling Xi he should continue building the camps, as Trump thought it was the right thing to do. President Trump’s conduct is lamentable and is fitting for an authoritarian but not for the president of the United States. It does, however, raise a valuable question for dictators all around the world. Why should they ever stop doing whatever they want, killing who they want to kill, and oppressing those they want to oppress if the United States is not only looking on, but encouraging such behavior?
While Russia is not as well-positioned as China to claim global superpower status, its dictator, Vladimir Putin, wasted no time capitalizing on America’s absence from the global stage to wage war against freedom and democracy at home in Russia and abroad.
During his 20 years in power, Russian President Vladimir Putin has made Russia less free and done everything he can to try to restore the country to its former Soviet glory. From illegally annexing Crimea, to invading Eastern Ukraine and Georgia, to rigging domestic elections, to changing the Russian constitution so he never leaves power, and to killing his critics, Putin has proven himself to be a dictator and a thug.
Democracy, truth, and freedom are threats to Putin. It is why he goes to great efforts to restrict freedom of speech, religion, and assembly in Russia. It’s why he rigs elections in his favor and interferes with American elections.
President Trump has done nothing to stop these attacks against U.S. elections, and has even gone as far as to encourage such attacks. In 2016, he called on Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s emails. On the same day of Trump’s call for help, Russians tried to hack Clinton’s server. At a summit in Helsinki in 2018, President Trump met with Vladimir Putin. While taking questions from the press, President Trump publicly backed Putin’s claims that he did not try to interfere in the 2016 election, taking Putin’s word over that of U.S. intelligence agencies.
While President Trump’s presidency may be marked by his errant tweets and his inconsistent support of the Constitution, he is consistent in at least one thing: his affection for Vladimir Putin. President Trump frequently praises Putin for reasons that are unclear. After Putin rigged the latest Russian presidential election in his favor, President Trump went out of his way to congratulate Putin on the win despite great efforts taken by Trump’s national security team to prevent him from congratulating Putin. For some, Trump’s well wishes and congratulations may seem insignificant, but in reality, it’s a tacit endorsement of Russia’s undemocratic system. It’s an endorsement by the leader of the most powerful democratic country in the world that the voice of the Russian people doesn’t matter and that sham elections are okay.
There are countless brutal dictators and leaders all over the world who are watching the U.S. do nothing while the bigger players, like Russia and China, do whatever they want. If the only country strong enough and motivated enough by human rights won’t stand up for freedom worldwide, then why would these brutal dictators ever stop what they are doing?
The hope that America will lead the world toward a more free and democratic future will never happen while the giant albatross, Donald Trump, hangs around its neck. For the United States to better help freedom-loving people worldwide, President Trump must not be reelected.