Andrei is a dissident. He resigned from the Belarusian government in 1996 in protest against the growing authoritarianism of President Alexander Lukashenko. In 2010, he dared to oppose Lukashenko for the presidency of Belarus.
We have learned from our experience that when it comes to defending democracy, whistleblowers can cost their careers, but dissidents often pay with their lives. their.
While whistleblowers and dissidents play an important role as truth seekers in society, our story illustrates the sobering reality that we cannot create make a change without additional support. Simply put, accusers and dissidents can act as catalysts for change, but it is the broader public that can change the course of history.
This is a key element of the ongoing battle against anti-democratic forces, and a key feature of the American system, which is flexible and resilient to the will of the people in turbulent times. chaos.
American complacency has both short-term and long-term consequences. While in the short term some “Big Lie” advocates could win elected office, the significant danger lies in long-term trends – namely the increased substitution of political traditionalists by the populists and conspiracy theories of Trump.
Three years from now, Trump could be the Republican nominee in the 2024 presidential election, criticizing another near-term election defeat. But this time, he was able to gain the support of enough state Republican officials to comply with his demands to overturn the adverse election result.
We can’t just solve these problems once they’ve become a reality, as has been the case with the surge in civic activism under President Trump. We must proactively prevent authoritarianism now.
Given the current situation in Belarus, a prudent approach might be to provide financial, rhetorical and organizational support to leaders of the pro-democracy movement beyond the country’s borders. Important figures, such as Andrei, and organizations continue to strengthen and empower Belarusian civil society, even in exile. They facilitated the Belarusian opposition to give hope for the future and offer a democratic alternative to the illegitimate Lukashenko regime.
It is dangerous and irresponsible to believe that the United States can abdicate its duties as the leader of the free world without consequence in areas of the world where democracy owners are still struggling to establish a foothold. Belarusians, along with countless other peoples, look to the United States as an example and representative of an ideal worth striving for. American values and interests require defending democracy both at home and abroad.
While the US and Belarus are two different worlds, the Belarusian experience offers a terrifying doorway into a world devoid of basic freedoms. Believe us when we say that American democracy is worth defending, as it will resemble something closer to Belarus.