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Monday, May 16, 2022

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Three foreign leaders are ushering in a new political era


Ever since President Donald Trump’s rise to power, it became apparent that something is wrong with modern democracy: How did a person like Trump end up as the president of the greatest nation on Earth?

It might sound comforting to many Americans to hear that they are not alone in being dismayed by this. The shock is widespread beyond the United States; it isn’t the only country stuck with a leader of questionable character, ability and intent. 

Trump, Narendra Modi and Bashar al-Assad — three unconventional, authoritarian individuals — used similar stratagems to gain the public’s confidence, rise to tremendous power and spread mayhem.

Modi’s rise

Modi was born in a small village in Northern Gujarat, India. He wasn’t the most brilliant student but he was a very talented debater and writer. Modi became involved in politics at a young age, joining controversial political parties like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and later, the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Despite his refusal to publicly condemn the religiously and racially discriminatory activities his political parties indulged in, his economic reforms were progressively stable. His bluntness helped him stand apart as an honest newcomer. For many people who felt the ruling government had lost its credibility, Modi seemed to be the best successor. The pros outweighed the cons.

In May 2014, Modi was elected Prime Minister, defeating the Indian National Congress that had dominated politics for 60 years.

al-Assad’s approach

Born into a powerful and politically dominant family, al-Assad spent his early years earning a medical education. The untimely death of his brother left al-Assad the throne of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party in Syria. After the death of his father, he coaxed the Syrian people into thinking that he was capable of transforming his father’s tyrannical rule into a more democratic, modernized and well-recovered economy.  

In July 2000, al-Assad was elected president, constantly rooting for the idea of a democracy and giving the common man a voice. Fast forward 17 years and more than 200,000 Syrians have died in a civil war that started with rebellions against al-Assad’s controlling dictatorship. For al-Assad, being President isn’t a privilege: It is an ancestral right.

Trump’s power grab

Trump, born with a silver spoon into a construction and real estate business fortune, joined his father’s company Elizabeth Trump & Son at a young age and renamed it the Trump Organization after gaining full control in 1971.

In June 2015, Trump threw his hat in the ring for the presidency.

Mass criticism for his derogatory comments about Mexicans, Muslims, black Americans and minorities soon followed. During his campaign, those loyal to the Republican Party seemed unconcerned about sensitive issues the media highlighted; claims made by members of the media that Trump supported the Ku Klux Klan and the idea of white supremacy did not alarm his supporters.

Trump knew that the American people wanted real change. He articulately focused his campaign on “Making America Great Again.” He was also severely anti-establishment. Even though many questioned his sanity, voters preferred him, as the lesser of two evils, over Hillary Clinton.

In January, he was sworn in as the current president of the U.S.

Trojan horses

All three leaders caused tremendous dissension before and after their elections. However, they all had an agenda to unite voters. While their critics were busy rebutting them, they painted glorious images of their respective countries becoming successful.

In their campaigns, they constantly admonished corruption and abuse of power by previous administrations. They knew what the people wanted: jobs and economic prosperity. They knew that the people were tired of putting their trust in the status quo and grabbed the opportunity to paint the picture of a fresh start for all.

Trump and Modi are first generation politicians. Al-Assad, though he was not originally interested in politics, used the death of his brother and father as an entryway. Being an insider was, seemingly for the first time, disadvantageous politically.

People’s disappointed attitudes toward their government haven’t been as evident as they are now. These factors show that people have lost faith in the political establishment, not just on a national level, but on a global level. 

While there has been dissatisfaction with the establishment in the past, it seems that politics will never be the same again.

Iqraa Bukhari is a print journalism freshman and can be reached at [email protected]

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