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

2017 fire babies pose for photo one year later

23 babies and their moms gathered for a photo shoot at the Williams Lake Fire Department

Mount Polley Mine ordered to pay lost wages to 26 laid off employees

The decision comes at a time when mine employees have been on strike for the past seven weeks

Column: protected areas – how much is enough?

Columnist Jim Hilton says attitudes need to change

2017 wildfires give B.C. mom chance to say thank you to officer who saved her son

An unlikely encounter in the rural community of Likely, near Williams Lake

Mennonite volunteers help wildfire victims rebuild homes

Volunteers sometimes come for a week at a time

BC Games: Day 2 comes to an end

Hundreds of medals have been handed out at the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley

Two significant wildfires burning in southeastern B.C.

More than 20 fires were burning in the Southeast Fire Centre as of Saturday afternoon

Volunteers provide the glue that keeps BC Games moving

The 2018 Cowichan Summer Games had more than 2,300 volunteers on hand across Vancouver Island

No Name brand chicken nuggets recalled due to possible salmonella

Canadian Food Inspection Agency says multiple illnesses reported in B.C., Alberta and Ontario

Lodeiro scores twice to help Sounders beat Whitecaps 2-0

Seattle’s Nicolas Lodeiro opened the scoring in the fifth minute when he converted a penalty kick

Race walker breaks 18-year-old BC Games record

Zone 6 athlete Olivia Lundman crossed finish line with ease, to loud cheers in Cowichan

PHOTO GALLERY: BC Games Day 2

A brief look at action from the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley

BC Wildfire update on 14 major Okanagan blazes

Watch the media briefing on the current fire situation in the Okanagan.

UPDATED: Kinder Morgan pipeline protesters defy eviction order

Demonstrators at Camp Cloud in Burnaby say they won’t leave, but will meet with city officials

Most Read