EspañolA recent editorial column here at the PanAm Post spoke of the failures of the opposition parties in Venezuela and their culpability in the collapse of their country. The article raises some very important questions about democracy itself. Democracy, after all, is a very good system, and can produce some very positive results.
However, it is also a system fraught with incredible danger. Democracy represents the will of the people, but it also represents their whims, their fears, and their prejudices.
The Historical Legacy: False Promises, Division, Failure
It was democracy that created the Jim Crow segregation laws of the south, and democracy that later repealed them, with a lot of help from the courts. It was democracy that created prohibition, and then repealed the ban on alcohol in the United States. Democracy created the war on drugs, and it continues to this day.
It was democracy that made smokers the lepers of today’s society, based on false and misleading scientific data; if true, it would have resulted in a ban on automobiles and the internal combustion engine decades ago. Democracy bans sodas of a certain size, allows the passage of constitutional amendments that prohibit certain people from getting married, and establishes criminal and anti-terror laws based entirely on fear.
Democracy promises free money, no-consequence social programs, and crisis management based on diversion of responsibility. Democracy promises equal housing and equal benefits — socialist programs sold as good business that eventually lead directly to financial crisis and collapse. The blame for the poor economy then rests on Wall Street bankers, who did exactly as the democratically elected politicians asked, and even helped these same politicians make millions for themselves.
It was a democratic process — elections — that gave rise to Adolf Hitler and Hugo Chávez, and it continues to be the preferred method for selecting socialists, both moderate and extreme, around the globe. In the Americas, opposition parties, such as those in Venezuela, continue to offer the same sort of free-money schemes that brought down Greece, and threaten to do the same to France and other nations. The latest in this line is “guaranteed basic income”: US$2,000 a month for every adult to help him with his basic needs.
Supporters of this proposal often don’t mention the cost of such a venture: that $2,000 multiplied by 200,000,000 adults, multiplied by 12 months in a year, equals $4.8 trillion — in other words, more than we currently spend on everything else combined, which we already necessarily borrow a trillion dollars a year to fund. This proposal is put forth despite a national debt that officially exceeds $17 trillion, a total debt of more than $60 trillion, and unfunded liabilities that exceed $100 trillion. The current debt exceeds annual global economic activity, excluding the United States. To put it another way, our total debt exceeds all of the wealth created in a single year worldwide not including our economy.
Democracy is what allows us to debate the value and appropriateness of whether to cut a few billion dollars in spending now or a trillion dollars over 10 years, which would represent a mere 3 percent reduction in current spending projections — even at a time when total spending would rise anyway, possibly negating those cuts altogether. Democracy allows us to consider this a normal part of doing business and not the existential crisis that it represents.
The Great Fiction: Mob Rule, Legalized Plunder
Government, even in a democracy, is a thief. It is a criminal organization that takes money and property by force and violates its contracts. Whether for the “greater good” or the “common good,” government is power by force even if the action occurs after an open, free, and democratic election.
In Venezuela, opposition members have continually sought dialogue and established agreements with the government that were then completely ignored or willfully violated. After the “Indian Wars,” native-American tribes did the same thing, with the same results. Rulers in the United States have continued this under a concept called the Constitution.
Within that constitution is a Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments. Yet how many of those contractual agreements have been violated just over the last 50 years? How many times has the US Supreme Court upheld the 9th and 10th amendments regarding states’ rights and powers reserved to the people not delegated to the federal government? How many times have we heard a new and novel interpretation of the 4th amendment regarding unreasonable searches and seizures, and how many times must we endure another philosophical discussion about what the definition of “is” is?
Shall we again discuss and debate the right or not to be safe in our homes and properties and papers and effects from unreasonable searches and seizures? Shall we endure another discussion about the definition of the words, “the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed?” Shall we again hear about the statement that preceded those words and how they may not have actually meant that you can keep and bear arms.
Rules for You but Not for Us (the Elites)
The rule of law in a democracy can only exist if those in power abide by the rule of law that authorizes their offices and limits their powers? Once they ignore that rule (the US Constitution), once they infringe upon the liberties in the Bill of Rights, once they find a new and novel interpretation to the constitution that allows them to crush yet another freedom, the rule of law is dead.
How can anyone be expected to follow any law passed by any legislature or congress in the United States or elsewhere, if those enacting those laws ignore the organic law that created their office? What more debate shall we have?
How can you negotiate with a thief? How can you find compromise with a criminal organization or middle ground with the mob? How can any of us vote for any politician who does not recognize and act upon the existential threat that is our current national debt and agree to balance the budget immediately by any means necessary? How can we support any government that promises to protect civil liberties of voters, but does not prosecute the black panthers for standing armed in front of polling stations?
Our Own Dependency, Pettiness, Gullibility Perpetuate the Problem
Democracy can only work if the people and the politicians they elect assume the responsibility that naturally comes with being free and sovereign men and women. It can only work if honesty is the rule of law, not the punchline of a party joke. How can anyone have a sane and serious conversation so long as we are, for example, wedded to continuing social security, maintaining the size and scope of our military, or implementing a health care plan that will likely extend and exacerbate the current fiscal disaster that is the United States?
Democracy has failed. As a nation and as a planet, we have allowed our emotions to decide our voting decisions and our agendas to persuade politicians, but we have rarely held anyone to account, much less ourselves. We would rather argue over abortion or allege a war on women that doesn’t exist. We would rather call an Hispanic man a white racist than accept that maybe a black man was killed because he tackled someone and bashed his head repeatedly into the ground while yelling, “I’m going to kill you.”
We have allowed our government to bus people in to protest that very event, the killing of Trayvon Martin, and we have allowed our government to try to prosecute a man who by all accounts acted in self-defense. We have allowed our government to steal land, regulate crops, listen to our phone calls, read our emails, bomb innocent civilians, tax people unfairly while allowing the majority of the adult population to not work or pay taxes. This is the same government that recently tried to slaughter thousands of cattle, allegedly so the Chinese could build a solar energy plant on our soil all in the name of protecting an animal that many didn’t know even existed.
We allow this; we tolerate this with our vote or lack of it, our short memories, and because we want to do the right thing and not be too “unreasonable.” Our politicians, fearing the manipulation of the of the masses by a fifth estate that long ago sold its soul to various corporate and political movements, continue to play the game of “who can give the most free money.”
What is happening in Venezuela and what happened in Greece will be nothing compared to the global financial calamity that awaits the US people and any nation or peoples who rely on the once great republic’s economic, military, and political influence.
It is madness, pure and simple. Democracy has failed us, because we have failed ourselves.