On Wednesday, writing for The Washington Post, columnist and political commentator Justice Malala outlined how President Donald Trump hasn't just damaged American democracy — he has damaged democracy around the world.
"With the breathtaking decision to commute the prison sentence of his longtime adviser, Roger Stone, and then insist that the nation’s response to the coronavirus is under control, before admitting that it wasn’t, Trump has demonstrated that it is possible to hollow out and manipulate even the institutions of the United States to serve one individual’s personal interests," wrote Malala. "It is chilling not just for America but also for democrats in dangerous places across the globe. Expect the worst of the world’s autocrats to follow suit with similar outrages or to be emboldened to continue on the nefarious paths they are already on."
"The United States is being bent to one man’s advantage," wrote Malala. "This matters for the American people. Your house is on fire. But it matters even more for the idea of America."
This does two things, wrote Malala. Firs,t it tells activists in weak democracies that "this country stands with the autocrats" and will not support justice in their own country — as was demonstrated clearly with the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia. Second, "When the United States fails to hold the line on its own values, then the battle is lost in fragile states overseas that look to America for bold leadership" — for example, free press dissidents like Maria Ressa in the Phillippines cannot expect help against strongman president Rodrigo Duterte.
"Trump’s numerous egregious actions are a boon to autocrats everywhere," concluded Malala. "The light of democracy dies across the globe when the United States is diminished by its own leader."
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