Editor’s note: Frida Ghitis (@fridaghitis), a former Trends Wide producer and correspondent, is a world affairs columnist. She is a Trends Wide contributor, a columnist for The Washington Post, and a columnist for World Politics Review. The opinions expressed in this comment are yours. See more opinions here.
(Trends Wide) — Perhaps this is a source of pride for former President Donald Trump. But for the rest of the world, seeing the political turmoil of recent times in the United States emulated in nations from east to west is something very different. The example set by Trump – of despising, assaulting, and undermining a country’s democracy – has now become the template for authoritarian-leaning political actors around the world.
Like Trump’s cry of “fake news!” – which he used with some success to discredit professional journalists – has been used by dictators to crush the free press in their countries, the claim of a “rigged” election is also being deployed by those who cannot win the support of the voters as they try to gain power.
With security officials in Washington bracing for the possibility of more violence at the Sept. 18 rally in support of the insurgents charged in the Capitol riots, and as Trump hints that he will run for re-election in 2024, his style Political continues to spread like a hard-to-contain infection that ignores national borders.
In Myanmar, also known as Burma, the military-backed party lost by an overwhelming majority last November, around the time Trump lost his reelection by millions of votes. Perhaps the generals were watching Trump’s reaction. They immediately protested, alleging widespread fraud, flatly refusing to accept the results despite confirmation that the elections were generally fair and the result valid.
On February 1, the military detained Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders of the winning party, the National League for Democracy, and seized power. Since then, resistance to the coup has only intensified, as has the number of people killed by the ruthless regime. The Tatmadaw, as the Army is known, has killed more than 1,000 civilians. The government in exile is calling for a national uprising against the tyrannical junta. Civil war is a clear possibility. Once again, the election results were true. The losers rejected the result. Many of the winning candidates remain in detention.
In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro, a Trump admirer and impersonator, is following Trump’s movements step by step before the elections. His handling of the pandemic was so catastrophic – and the alleged corruption in his government and among his politically active children so egregious – that Bolsonaro is far behind in the polls ahead of next year’s presidential election. His children reject these accusations.
Bolsonaro claims that electronic voting, which has a long, solid and very credible track record in Brazil, will rig the elections against him. He has threatened to cancel the elections and is fanning the ire of his supporters, calling on them to take to the streets.
His attacks on the credibility of the elections have already triggered formal investigations against him for potentially criminal conduct, and the Brazilian Congress has already rejected his pressure to cancel electronic voting. Never mind. Bolsonaro is already crafting his “Big Lie”: By undermining faith in the electoral system, he is laying the groundwork to reject the election result (assuming they do occur) and hoping that his supporters will support him when he claims he did not lose. Does it ring a bell?
In Peru, the country has just suffered a terribly close presidential election, which pitted a candidate from the extreme left against another from the extreme right. When the meager vote count leaned toward her left-wing rival, Pedro Castillo, the candidate of the right, Keiko Fujimori, pulled out the false fraud letter, claiming that Castillo’s party was pursuing a “strategy” of “distortion. “.
He was unable to present any credible evidence, and Castillo ended up assuming the presidency by 44,263 votes. At a time of great tension, these election theft allegations could potentially unleash a wave of violence, not to mention the possibility that they might eventually steal the election. In the absence of any of these events, the country has dodged a bullet.
It’s no wonder that false accusations of fraud are taking root in the United States, where it seems possible that some version of Trump’s mantra, if I don’t win, then there was fraud – a demagogic conundrum like none other – is increasingly common in some circles. of the Republican Party.
In this week’s recall elections in California, Republican leader Larry Elder, a far-right radio personality, has already proclaimed that “there could well be shenanigans” if Gov. Gavin Newsom is victorious. Polls show Newsom in a strong position, which appears to be why Elder is now pulling the fraud weapon out of its holster. In case anyone has doubts, he explains that by “shenanigans” he refers to what happened to Trump in 2020.
What happened to Trump in 2020 is that he lost to Biden. What happened to the country is that Trump falsely claimed he had won and his supporters, now including most of the Republican Party, seem determined to embrace that lie. The technique works like a deadly bacterial bacillus, emerging first in a corner of the world and spreading far and wide, with consequences that could be disastrous for hundreds of millions of people.
Perhaps being imitated around the world makes Trump proud. For the rest of us, it hardly relives that old, familiar mix of frustration, sadness, anger, and deep concern.