Bad News Ahead

There are five big, bleak elections happening in the world this spring, and the all look bad.

As Churchill said, democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms. The problem, to put it succinctly, is that it requires an informed and engaged electorate. Americans are politically lazy, ill-informed, resentful, fearful, and often bigoted. Now obviously that isn't true for millions of our fellow citizens, but it pretty well describes the folks who've put Trump in the White House, and gave that collection of clowns and rascals known collectively as the contemporary Republican Party full control over the Congress and most state governments. It's extraordinarily hard to feel bad for people who insist on giving power to a party that despises it's own supporters. And the problems are not confined to the U.S. The idea the Italians are seriously contemplating reinstalling Silvio Berlusconi as head of their government should make civilized people weep. Basta!

Freedom Officially Dead In Zimbabwe

Freedom and democracy were endangered for years. But a wave of terror, intimidation, rape, and murder have officially shut-down the opposition party, and have made Robert Mugabe stronger than ever. And Mugabe has essentially vowed not to relinquish power until he dies. Claiming that the MDC, the opposing party, is not patriotic and panders to British interests, the 84 year-old Mugabe said this:

Only God, who appointed me, will remove me. Not the MDC, not the British. We will never allow an event like an election [to] reverse our independence....

Mugabe's challenger, Morgan Tsvangirai, and the MDC won more votes by narrow margin in parliamentary elections in March, but fell short of earning 50% of the popular vote required to avoid a runoff. The runoff was scheduled for June 27th. But today Tsvangirai and the MDC stood down amidst intimidation, beatings, and killings by pro-Mugabe gangs. As is frequently the case in dictatorships, Mugabe explained that the months of escalated violence has been committed by the MDC, not by his party or supporters.

Time for a disclaimer as well. I don't think there are any liberal bloggers who defend Mugabe. I say this because I know that Mugabe was once a victim of a white apartheid government when his country was known as Southern Rhodesia. Surely a man who survived white imprisonment and helped lead his nation to independence could be admired 30 years ago. He is also a vocal adversary of the UK and the US - two governments we liberals are always happy to criticize. But by no means does that make him someone to admire.

Since 1980, Mugabe has become quite a monster. And yes, some right-wing blogs, such as Instaputz, have frequently attacked Mugabe. But in this case, the enemy of our enemy is still our enemy.

Same applies to Hugo Chavez. On one hand, he is proving that second-world, resource-rich countries, can compete with the USA in the same hemisphere (like Brazil). Venezuela is a viable, alternative economic partner to African and Asian countries that don't like the USA's prices. But on the other hand, Chavez is still a power-hungry, irrational, democracy-smothering son of a bitch.

And Mugabe is becoming a murderous, dangerous, son of a bitch. His actions threaten not only his country, but to a lesser extent, he threatens the already-fragile prosperity and democracy in Africa as a whole.

Chaos Is On The March

So this is how democracy dies - in two fragile democracies.

In Kenya, the rioting and violence related to the nation's contested election was taken to a new level when a mob torched a church where people tried to escape the chaos. Over 30 civilians, including many children, were killed. The UN ought to join the US and EU in calling for an internationally monitored recount and/or independent investigation of the election.

In Pakistan, the general election scheduled for January 8th, has now been called 'impossible' to hold as scheduled by the nation's election commission. A postponement would almost certainly provoke international criticism and more violence on the streets.