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There Is (Still) No Alternative


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venezuela-nicolas-maduro-socialism-economicsNational Review:

In Venezuela, the same lessons as Cuba, North Korea, USSR . . .

Kevin D. Williamson

August 25, 2015

 

Nicolás Maduro is the heir to Hugo Chávez, who was after Fidel Castro the tin-pot dictator most beloved of Democrats in Hollywood and Washington alike, and his government is in the full, mature stage of socialism, which means that opposition leaders are being locked up and forbidden to contest elections.

 

The New York Times tells the tale of Enzo Scarano, formerly the mayor of San Diego, a fast-growing city west of Caracas. There were protests against the Maduro regime in San Diego, and so the mayor was stripped of his office and thrown in jail for nearly a year. Now, he wants to run for national office, but has been disqualified by the Maduro government. Other prominent opposition figures are being treated the same way.

 

When Senator Bernie Sanders describes himself as a socialist and his critics point queasily to such socialist experiments as those in Cuba and North Korea, the response is always predictably the same: No, no: democratic socialism. But of course Boss Hugo advanced through the democratic process (when he wasn’t attempting coups d’état) and Maduro’s rule was confirmed in a special election. Perhaps he even legitimately won that election; regardless, he is stacking the deck this time around by ensuring that those who might challenge him are sitting on the sidelines or languishing in prison.

 

There is more to democratic legitimacy than open ballots truly counted. As the Founders of our own republic keenly appreciated, genuine democratic engagement requires an informed populace and open debate, thus the First Amendment’s protections, which extend not only to newspapers and political parties but also to ordinary citizens, despite the best efforts of Harry Reid and congressional Democrats to trample those rights. (They call this “campaign-finance reform,” on the theory that political communications more sophisticated than standing on a soapbox outside the Mall of America requires some sort of financial outlay.) But Venezuela has been for years cracking down on newspapers, radio stations, and television stations, even as the Maduro regime’s inspirations in Havana have been locking up outlaw . . . librarians.

 

(Snip)


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