BRIAN DOBBIN, FOUNDER
2020 was a pretty rotten year, and in a lot of eyes it was salvaged only by the recent disposition of Donald Trump as ‘leader of the free world’. The truth is that Diaper Don has only been the poster boy for what is happening in the free world, and it’s not good.
According to Freedom House, an American NGO that has been tracking democratic and civil liberties around the world since its founding in 1941, the year of 2020 was the 13th year in a row that freedom around the world declined.
Since the expansive growth of liberal democracies at the end of the Cold War authoritarianism and populism in democratic countries has been steadily rising, and COVID has provided the opportunity for many administrations around the world to strangle freedoms more fiercely.
Riots have recently broken out in Uganda after the opposition party leader was arrested for breaking government coronavirus rules while holding a rally ahead of the early 2021 election. The focus on the pandemic has given China much less scrutiny as it imprisons more and more of the Hong Kong democracy activists.
Over 30 countries since 2007 have had their political term limits changed from democratic norms, and countries such as Russia and Saudi Arabia have shown that they do not fear international scrutiny when targeting their own civilians in different jurisdictions.
No attack on freedom in 2020 was more startling than Trump’s continuing assertion that his own country’s elections were “rigged”, and his rallying of millions of Americans to believe it. If anything proved how fragile freedom and liberty has become, it was this week’s scene of a few thousand wing-nuts storming through the Capitol Building while Senate was in session.
I’m not sure how one advocates for this trend to reverse. I would like to think that good ethics and freedom go hand in hand, and that it is an inherent desire in all human beings to strive in that direction.
Perhaps it is the inevitable ebb and flow of human ideologies that this happens, and given how far we’ve come since half of the world was behind the ‘iron curtain’ in the cold war 30 years ago, the recent recession of some of these freedoms still puts us ahead of the curve in my lifetime.
I do know this – becoming an international citizen with footholds in more than one part of the world seems more than ever like a critical hedge for one’s liberty and safety, and for that of your family.