When leaders start denying facts, this has a direct effect on the quality of democracy in their countries – Former US President Barak Obama has warned.
He made the remarks during a lecture to celebrate the centenary of former president Nelson Mandela’s birth, Obama made a desperate plea for a return to facts and objective truths.
“Denial of facts is contrary to democracy. In fact, it may undo it,” Obama warned.
He also said that real democrats surround themselves with people who differ from them. You dare not tell people who do not look like you to shut up. Mandela learned Afrikaans to engage his adversaries. Learn to listen and partake in serious democratic debate.
The former US leader is a strong advocate for a free market economy that champions “inclusive capitalism”,
He threw hard punches at a new era of elitists who do not believe in the idea of nation states and increasingly live their lives detached from the wellbeing of countries.
They are continuously looking for ways to avoid paying taxes, assisted by accountants and lawyers.
The global economic crisis of 2008 contributed substantially to a “backlash” against globalisation that brought an era of “the politics of fear and resentment” – another reference to his successor.
To either give in to the politics of fear, in which strongmen sacrifice democratic principles for profit and civil war is unavoidable, or to go the way of Mandela, Gandhi, King and Lincoln – “where all people are equal”.
In his well drafted speech, Obama said democracy was messy, but “we have no choice but to move forward,” Obama said as he listed the human and geo-political advancements made since the Berlin wall fell and Mandela’s release in the early 1990s.
He osed three timely challenges to South Africa and the world for democracy to survive.
- Reduce inequality and curb crude capitalism.
- Treat every person, irrespective of race or orientation, with humanity and dignity.
- Live democracy. Elections alone are not enough to safeguard the rights of individuals and minorities.