Democracy Under Siege From Lying Politicians, Says Obama

Former US president Barack Obama has launched a scathing attack on lying, strongman politics that are a danger to democracy.

Without naming names, he targets world leaders like current President Donald Trump and Russian premier Vladimir Putin.

Speaking in South Africa on the 100thanniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, Obama claimed world leaders were ridiculed for their lack of shame and telling lies.

Obama’s remarks were thought to be aimed at Trump.

The former president spoke of the dangers of protectionism, denying climate change and closing borders – all policies of the new president.

Politics of fear

“The politics of fear and resentment and retrenchment began to appear. And that kind of politics is now on the move. It’s on the move at a pace that would have seemed unimaginable just a few years ago,” he said.

“I am not being alarmist, I’m simply stating the facts. Look around — strongman politics are ascendant, suddenly, whereby elections and some pretence of democracy are maintained, the form of it, where those in powers seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning.”

Obama also bemoaned how modern politicians lie and cheat their way to power with fake news.

“People just make stuff up. They just make stuff up. We see it in the growth of state sponsored propaganda. We see it in internet fabrications. We see it in the blurring of lines between news and entertainment.

No shame for some leaders

“We see the utter loss of shame among political leaders where they’re caught in a lie and they just double down and they lie some more. It used to be that if you caught them lying, they’d be like, oh man — now they just keep on lying,” he said.

Obama cautioned that the free press and internet was under attack, that censorship and state control of media is on the rise and that social media was seen by governments as a tool for promoting hate, propaganda and conspiracy theories.

The former president laid out a stark choice that his audience should make: to follow the strongman politicians or to choose the hope offered by visionaries like Mandela.