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Political Courage Compared: US Vs. Turkey

Why is standing up to one-man rule and presidential nepotism actively pursued among AK Party grandees in Turkey, but not by Republicans in the U.S.?

May 27, 2019

Why is standing up to one-man rule and presidential nepotism actively pursued among AK Party grandees in Turkey, but not by Republicans in the U.S.?

The U.S. Senate advertises itself as “the world’s most deliberative (legislative) body.” And yet, the majority party Republicans excel only in one way – their shameless submission to the strong-man rule of Donald Trump.

More significantly, the lack of any sense of principle and self-respect among the Republicans makes a global mockery of the self-congratulatory references to the greatness of U.S. democracy.

For evidence, just ask yourself which Republican Party grandee in the United States:

• warns against the country being “sacrificed to cronyism, increasingly swollen egos and fruitless strife” and suffering from the lack of “any sense of humility”?

• argues that politics in the country at present is dominated by a relentless effort to “consolidate the influence of an entire family and circle by forgetting the fact that assumed duties are exclusive to an individual”?

• warns against “the proliferation of all kinds of slander, including social media operations, in order to destroy people seen as political rivals”?

• charges that the ruling party does not stand up against “severe contraction in the social inclusivity” and sees it as “detached from the coastal regions” (which also happen to produce most of the country’s GDP)?

• asserts that “our country, founded on the nation’s tears, labor, hearts and minds, cannot be abandoned to the status-seeking concerns of a narrow, self-serving circle that is a slave to its own ambitions”?

• acknowledges that “election competitors are not enemies, they are political rivals.” And adds that “whoever emerges from the ballot, the winner is our nation and democracy. Respecting the result is the duty of politicians before anyone else”?

• finds that “attempts to take control of the judiciary should be seen as the greatest crime,” regardless of “whoever does it and under whatever justification”?

• reminds everyone that a President has to “function as representative of the whole of society, embracing all its sections”?

• lays out in no uncertain terms that “journalists, politicians or anyone who expresses their ideas should never have to face stigma, social media lynching or abusive threats”?

• says that “the freedom to criticize and to express one’s ideas must be protected to the end?”

• explains that the precondition for “the effective governance of a state is that its politics and public administration are based on competence and merit”?

• asserts that “self-confidence that is not backed up by knowledge and experience and propped up by personal close relations only gives the impression of an exaggerated show that appears to lack seriousness”?

It is tempting to think that this long and on-point list of charges is directed against Donald J. Trump and was expressed by a leading Republican in the United States.

But you would be wrong. All the statements above are drawn from a “Manifesto” that Ahmed Davutoglu, Turkey’s former Prime Minister, published on April 29, 2019.

Turkish — not U.S. — courage on display

Now, a manifesto does not make a political turnaround. And there have long been concerns that Mr. Davutoglu is mostly a former academic and no alpha-male able to stand up to Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The same may be said of former President Abdullah Gül as well as Ali Babacan and Mehmet Simsek, the pair of economic reformers who laid the cornerstone for Mr. Erdogan’s political success (which is very much rooted in the – now past – rise of Turkey’s economy).

And yet, the stirrings inside the AK Party are undeniable. At a minimum, many in the conservative party are worried about three self-destructive factors being in play:

1. First, that they are sacrificing their entire party to Mr. Erdogan’s insatiable appetite for power.

2. Second, that they are hostage to his uncontrolled lust for the self-enrichment of his clan.

3. And third, that they are but pawns in his blind devotion to cronyism that hollows out their country’s standing in the world and the health of its national economy.

One could only wish that similarly full-throated and courageous displays of political ethics as Mr. Davutoglu has now expressed were on display among the U.S. Republicans.

Shamefully, and in blatant contrast to the constant flow of self-aggrandizing statements about the uniqueness of the United States and the superiority of its democracy, none can be found.

At least not to anywhere near the same, consolidated fashion in which they are now coming to the fore in Turkey. The people who built the AK Party alongside Mr. Erdogan understand full well that it is not only their party’s future that hangs in the balance, but that the entire country is on the wrong path, owing to the dominance of one-man rule.

It says quite something about the state of world affairs today that standing up to these twin threats is something that is now strongly pursued among AK Party grandees in Turkey, while there is still deafening silence among the Republicans in the United States.


The rise of political courage and a strong sense of ethics in Turkish politics are all the more impressive when compared to the situation in the US.

Standing up to one-man rule is actively pursued in Turkey -- but there is still deafening silence among Republicans in the US.

The majority of US Republicans excel only in one way – their shameless submission to the strong man rule of Donald Trump.

The lack of any sense of principle among Republicans makes a global mockery of often-heard references to the greatness of US democracy.