Education is the key to preventing U.S. democracy from crumbling

In an essay recently published by The Atlantic, Hillary Clinton analyzed the performance of President Donald Trump's administration. Her words should really make readers think about the path that the world is starting to take and should be seen as a push to action.

The authoritarian behavior of the U.S. president is comparable to that of worst 19th-century dictators.

What is really alarming about Trump's presidency is that it delegitimizes the government’s separation of powers. It should be obvious that a democracy needs to separate its judicial, legislative and executive branch. However, Trump acts as if he is above the law. Quoting his own words, “I have an absolute right to do what I want to with the Justice Department.”

Following the same line of reasoning, the president also claims to be the only reliable and trustworthy source of information. He has, in fact, discredited acclaimed newspapers and journalists multiple times.

Denigrating the press and accusing it of diffusing fake news is not fair democratic action and looks like the first step toward a limitation of the freedom of the press.

One of the roles of journalists and media outlets is to maintain transparency of governing bodies by providing non-biased information. This idea of free speech and an open discourse of ideas is at the base of a functioning democracy.

To some, this might appear to be an exaggerated reaction; no one will ever be able to take over the Western democracies.

Yet, overturning a democratic constitution is easier than anyone could possibly expect. In July, for example, the new right-wing and populist Polish government passed a law that went against the independence of its own judicial branch.

Also, Hungary, with its prime minister, Viktor Orbán, is posing a serious threat to Hungarian democracy. Interestingly enough, he was recently endorsed by former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.

By fighting against these prominent populist threats, the European Union is actively serving as a primary example of what a strong democracy is meant to be. The union is, in fact, trying to unsheathe the so-called nuclear option against Hungary. Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union states that if a member state persistently breaches the EU's founding values, that state can see its voting rights suspended.

This unprecedented initiative appears to be the only weapon that the democratic union has to break off from European populism.

Is this going to work at all? Will any positive change come as a result of this? The answer is not certain, especially due to the fact that the nuclear option is a measure immmensely difficult to apply due to the necessity of the European Parliament's unanimity.

No one seems to be able to find the solution to the deterioration of democracy, and this is probably one of the major flaws in modern-day politics. Populism is the outcome of fear, inequality and ignorance.

The reason why people choose to follow the words of charismatic leaders instead of researching information from newspapers and magazines is due to the lack of education the world is currently facing.

If the education system were able to provide a safe learning environment — keeping weapons as far away as possible from kids — the world would not be facing this social crisis.

It seems like politicians struggle to understand this, but investing in future generations is probably the only key to saving the world. The state should designate more money to public schools and should ensure that everyone, from every social class and ethnic background, is provided with a high-quality primary and secondary education.

School is the first time kids encounter society and diversity, and it's ridiculous that only some of those kids, those from a wealthier background, have the opportunity to access a better education. Apparently, spending money on education is a waste of time and money is not good for business.

In final analysis, democracy does not only imply that everyone is entitled to vote and speak. Democracy means the power belongs to the people, and having power means having the same opportunities. If this were true today, we would not be discussing democracy's failure.

-Mic Cafasso

Political Science '22