Monday, June 15, 2015

Beware of Populist Politicians

Populism is on the march in the United States.  The destruction this ideology leaves in its wake is monumental.  Nothing goes untouched in this pursuit of social justice and income equality.  Property, institutions, and even morality are molested by deceitful politicians whom capitalize upon the ignorant, the envious and the greedy.  The end result is a third-world hellhole.

In order to fully appreciate populism and how it can devastate a country and its surrounding neighbors, one only has to look to Venezuela and other Latin American countries that emulated Hugo Chavez’s rhetoric and schemes.  Here is an excerpt from an article published by the Atlantic on the template of authoritarians:

 Populism will always stand in tension with democracy. The logic of personalism drives populist politicians to widen their powers and discre­tion. Because these leaders sustain their influence via personal appeals rather than intermediary organizations, they see any institutions outside their control as obstacles to be bypassed or overcome. Determined and politically compelled to boost their personal predominance, populist leaders strive to weaken constitutional checks and balances and to sub­ordinate independent agencies to their will. They undermine institution­al protections against the abuse of power and seek political hegemony.

Isn't that what Obama and the Democratic Party has done with government bureaucracies?  Haven't they bypassed Congress and in some instances the courts?  How many times has the courts ruled against this administration and how many times have they ignored those rulings?  

Correspondingly, populist leaders treat opponents not as adversaries in a fair and equal competition, but as profound threats. Branding rivals "enemies of the people," they seek all means to defeat and marginalize them. Turning politics into a struggle of "us against them," populists un­dermine pluralism and bend or trample institutional safeguards. Populist leaders also put strong pressure on independent forces in civil society and strive to control the media, especially television. All these attacks, depicted as a defense of the people against rapacious elites, are also meant to strengthen leader-follower bonds and thus to compensate for the lack of organizational mediation. The absence of institutional disci­pline in the populist movement prompts the leader to recharge the base's loyalty through heroic activism. In all these ways, the populist notion of politics as an "all or nothing" struggle damages democracy.

Doesn't that sound familiar?

Populism, whether of the left or the right, is a threat to democracy. Yet in Latin America today, the graver and more sustained danger is coming from the leftist variant. Chávez set the model. As soon as he was elected president of Venezuela, he set about revamping the country's institutional framework. First, he called a constituent assembly. Then, to dislodge the established political class that he charged with selfish­ness and corruption, he successfully pushed to close the recently elected bicameral Congress, where his followers held only about a third of the seats. Thanks to a reengineered electoral system, Chávez dominated the constituent assembly that boosted his powers, ended the ban on consecu­tive terms, and created a new unicameral (and hence easier to control) national legislature. These institutional victories--plus the promise of socioeconomic change--lifted Chávez and his camp to victory in the 2000 elections. Moreover, he took control of the courts and other in­dependent institutions, such as Venezuela's electoral commission, and soon had a stranglehold on all branches of government.

Populism has no place in the United States.  Yet, there are demagogues who attack our institutions and way of life in an attempt to render us subservient to their ambitions of power.  We must beware of people and political parties that espouse these dangerous tactics.  They are no friend to this republic, or the principles for which we stand.


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