Former United States President Barack Obama spoke out against strongman politics and the pretence of democracy. Speaking at an event commemorating the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Tuesday, Obama said,
Look around. Strongman politics are ascendant suddenly, whereby elections and some pretence of democracy are maintained — the form of it — but those in power seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning…So we have to stop pretending that countries that just hold an election where sometimes the winner somehow magically gets 90 percent of the vote because all the opposition is locked up or can’t get on TV is a democracy.
…Democracy depends on strong institutions and it’s about minority rights and checks and balances, and freedom of speech and freedom of expression and a free press, and the right to protest and petition the government, and an independent judiciary, and everybody having to follow the law. And yes, democracy can be messy, and it can be slow, and it can be frustrating. I know, I promise. But the efficiency that’s offered by an autocrat, that’s a false promise. Don’t take that one, because it leads invariably to more consolidation of wealth at the top and power at the top, and it makes it easier to conceal corruption and abuse. For all its imperfections, real democracy best upholds the idea that government exists to serve the individual and not the other way around. And it is the only form of government that has the possibility of making that idea real.
More: New York Times