Both former President Jimmy Carter and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders agree: political and economic inequality is helping to breed a rise in support for right-wing authoritarianism across the globe.
The two offered their opinions this week during a forum at the Carter Center (the full event can be seen at the official organization’s Facebook page).
“I believe the root of the downturn in human rights preceded 2016,” Carter explained. “I think the reason was disparity in income which has been translated into the average person – you know, good, decent, hard-working middle class people – feeling that they are getting cheated by the government and by society, and they don’t get the same element of health care, they don’t get the same quality education, they don’t get the same political rights.”
During the height of the presidential primary election season, researchers warned that wealth inequality was a threat to democracies worldwide. Since that time, far-right ideologues won a Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, Donald Trump won the presidency on a wave of conservative populism, and other nations have seen a growth of support for authoritarian leaders.
Sanders agreed with Carter’s assessment, adding his own thoughts on economic and political disparity.
Look, here is the situation. You got all over this country tens of millions of people who are extremely angry and they are disappointed. Now we all know as a result of technology workers are producing more today than they did 20 or 30 years ago. Yet despite that you’re seeing people work not 40 hours a week, they’re working 50 or 60 hours a week. Their wages are actually going down!
At that, Carter joked with the audience, admitting that he supported Sanders in the presidential primary contest against eventual winner Hillary Clinton. “Do y’all see why I voted for him?” Carter said to laughs.