In the season finale Last week today, host John Oliver said that authoritarianism is becoming a dangerous global trend, citing examples from around the world to illustrate his arguments. The night host also called on the Americans to be vigilant to help ensure that authoritarianism would not behave similarly in the United States.
Oliver opened his segment of authoritarianism, suggesting that there was "a disturbing rise in authoritarian leaders around the world." The host quoted Vladimir Putin from Russia, Xi Jinping from China, Viktor Orbán from Hungary, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Turkey and Jair Bolsonaro from Brazil as examples of leaders from around the world who demonstrate authoritarian tendencies.
The comedian said he wanted to look at the features of authoritarian leaders to assess "what can make them so attractive to people and to what extent this country [the United States] it is heading in the same direction. "Oliver then described in detail three qualities that he believes to embody authoritarian leadership: projecting power, demonizing enemies, and dismantling institutions.
For the first trait, emerging force, Oliver explained that many authoritarian leaders are trying to show strength at the state and individual levels to compensate for the "fear that they may be seen as unlawful." Oliver recalled Russian military parades and Putin's own regime as examples of this tendency.
The host then described the second trait, demonizing the enemies. He claimed that the authoritarian leaders "often do what they can to identify and sometimes create a group of villains from whom they and they can save the country themselves". The comedian used the case of Rodrigo Duterte from the Philippines to illustrate this point. As Oliver described, Duterte "rose to power" after the campaign against drug crime. As president, Duterte's characteristics of those who are associated with drugs as enemies of the Philippines have led to the nation's often sanctioned death of over 12,000 people.
Oliver then explained his final characteristics by dismantling the institutions, noting that "when they gain power, the authorities try to weaken them [institutional] check them out. "The host pointed out that the crackdown on the freedom of the press and the independence of the judiciary are classic examples of institutional dismantling, and then recalled forced forced Poles to move to the Supreme Court judges as an example of how leaders can (and do) secretly consolidate power.
The comedian ended his segment on authoritarianism, indicating that he believes that President Trump demonstrates aspects of these three traits. As Oliver put it:
He [Trump] he loves to look strong, he really wanted a military parade, and when it comes to demonizing enemies, he happily followed immigrants and other marginalized groups …
However, Oliver noted that while he thinks that Trump has the characteristics of an authoritarian leader – and that many of them support him because of it – the US institutions prevented him from becoming an authoritarian country. Oliver, for example, pointed out that court trials caused the Trump administration to withhold some controversial decisions. Some of these decisions include annulment of the press pass of CNN journalists Jimmy Acosta and introduction of a travel ban between persons from several countries in the majority of Muslim countries (although the amended ban was later detained in court).
Recognizing the power of American institutions, Oliver warned that Trump "is testing the system" and called on Americans to "stay alert." He claimed that society must continue to maintain the Trump administration's responsibility and vote in the election, stressing that Americans should never be "satisfied with themselves". Oliver certainly honestly believes that "the world now abhors something very dangerous," and the United States is not immune to the threat of authoritarianism.