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You are here: MacNN Forums > Community > MacNN Lounge > Political/War Lounge > The Demise of Democracy in Venezuela

The Demise of Democracy in Venezuela
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Big Mac
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Feb 16, 2009, 04:53 AM
 
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7891856.stm

A real pity for those trapped in that country. Chavez is making himself the new Castro.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
OAW
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Feb 16, 2009, 03:29 PM
 
Interesting. So Venezuela holds a vote and the majority cast their ballots to end term limits on all elected officials (not just Chavez). And this is the demise of democracy how exactly? Like it or not, the majority of the Venezuelan people have elected Chavez. Three times. The first time in 1998 he received 56% of the vote. The second time in 2000 he received 60% of the vote. And he survived a recall attempt in 2004 with 59% of the vote. On top of that no major international organization has determined that the elections were rigged or otherwise not "fair and open". If the will of the people is to remove term limits in their system of government why is this an issue? To my knowledge, no one in Venezuela is talking about eliminating presidential elections.

OAW
     
turtle777
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Feb 16, 2009, 04:15 PM
 
Right OAW, Venezuela is a model democracy.

I'm gonna tell my venezuelan friend, who left the country because of all the great democracy they have there

-t
     
hyteckit
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Feb 16, 2009, 04:21 PM
 
US Presidents didn't have limits to the number of terms they can served until the 21st amendment was passed on 1947.

US Senators and House of Representatives still don't have term limits. Neither do supreme court justices.
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ort888
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Feb 16, 2009, 04:22 PM
 
I blame Obama.

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turtle777
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Feb 16, 2009, 04:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by ort888 View Post
I blame Obama.
Finally, you're coming to your senses.

-t
     
OldManMac
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Feb 16, 2009, 05:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Right OAW, Venezuela is a model democracy.

I'm gonna tell my venezuelan friend, who left the country because of all the great democracy they have there

-t
No one said it is a model democracy, but it is nonetheless true that Chavez was voted in three times by the people.
     
hyteckit
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Feb 16, 2009, 05:57 PM
 
So Democracy sucks?

DEMOCRACY FAILED!
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spacefreak
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Feb 16, 2009, 06:24 PM
 
The problems I have is not so much that democracy failed. The actual voting by most accounts went smoothly.

My problems are rooted in state-controlled media (radio, tv, press). Alternate ideas or visions are not covered or promoted on these outlets.
     
OldManMac
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Feb 16, 2009, 06:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by spacefreak View Post
Alternate ideas or visions are not covered or promoted on these outlets.
You mean, like Faux News.
     
turtle777
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Feb 16, 2009, 06:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by OldManMac View Post
You mean, like Faux News.
Nice stab, but completely beside the point.

Unless, in your neck of the woods, you can not get CNN, NBC or anything else.

-t
     
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Feb 16, 2009, 07:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by OAW View Post
Interesting. So Venezuela holds a vote and the majority cast their ballots to end term limits on all elected officials (not just Chavez). And this is the demise of democracy how exactly? Like it or not, the majority of the Venezuelan people have elected Chavez. Three times. The first time in 1998 he received 56% of the vote. The second time in 2000 he received 60% of the vote. And he survived a recall attempt in 2004 with 59% of the vote. On top of that no major international organization has determined that the elections were rigged or otherwise not "fair and open". If the will of the people is to remove term limits in their system of government why is this an issue? To my knowledge, no one in Venezuela is talking about eliminating presidential elections.

OAW
Democracy is two wolves and one sheep voting on what's for dinner. What Big Mac means is that eliminating term limits--particularly in Latin America--is a bad sign for the perseverance of healthy democracy. Term limits are the ultimate guarantee that even if presidents in power can set the game in their favor for elections through the simple grace of incumbency or more nefarious means, their power can still only last so long. Removing that check on executive power should concern anyone interested in the future of Venezuela, its relations with the free world and the liberty of its people.
     
Uncle Skeleton
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Feb 16, 2009, 07:27 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Nice stab, but completely beside the point.
My guess is that the point was that spacefreak would love outlets where "alternate ideas or visions are not covered or promoted" so long as the ideas and visions that are covered are the ones he already agrees with.

How about that, spacefreak, do you enjoy/approve of Fox News? If so, you hardly have a leg to stand on complaining about the same type of behavior from the other side of the fence...
     
OldManMac
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Feb 16, 2009, 07:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
My guess is that the point was that spacefreak would love outlets where "alternate ideas or visions are not covered or promoted" so long as the ideas and visions that are covered are the ones he already agrees with.

How about that, spacefreak, do you enjoy/approve of Fox News? If so, you hardly have a leg to stand on complaining about the same type of behavior from the other side of the fence...
Exactly.
     
Big Mac  (op)
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Feb 16, 2009, 08:18 PM
 
Chavez becomes dictator and the best you guys can come up with as a retort is your lame Faux News tripe? You radicals crack me up.

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hyteckit
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Feb 16, 2009, 08:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
Chavez becomes dictator and the best you guys can come up with as a retort is your lame Faux News tripe? You radicals crack me up.
What do you want us to say?

Go Venezuela?

Didn't like how the people of Venezuela voted? Maybe US can invade Venezuela because we don't like their democracy. Maybe in 20 years time, we can re-invade Iraq again when their democracy turns out like Venezuela.
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ThinkInsane
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Feb 16, 2009, 09:39 PM
 
Let me throw out a hypothetical to those of you that think ending term limits in Venezuela is a sign of healthy democracy: If three years ago, George W. Bush put on the ballot an item to end Presidential term limits and it passed, allowing Bush himself to keep running indefinitely, would you still see this as good for democracy?

This is not flamebait, I am genuinely curious.
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OldManMac
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Feb 16, 2009, 10:19 PM
 
Originally Posted by ThinkInsane View Post
Let me throw out a hypothetical to those of you that think ending term limits in Venezuela is a sign of healthy democracy: If three years ago, George W. Bush put on the ballot an item to end Presidential term limits and it passed, allowing Bush himself to keep running indefinitely, would you still see this as good for democracy?

This is not flamebait, I am genuinely curious.
Without reading the thread all over again, I don't think anyone said that ending term limits in Venezuela is a sign of a healthy democracy. What was pointed out is that the people of Venezuela voted Chavez in three times, so apparently a majority of them don't see a problem with him.

The OP's post seems to be more flamebait than the ensuing conversation.
     
hyteckit
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Feb 16, 2009, 10:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by ThinkInsane View Post
Let me throw out a hypothetical to those of you that think ending term limits in Venezuela is a sign of healthy democracy: If three years ago, George W. Bush put on the ballot an item to end Presidential term limits and it passed, allowing Bush himself to keep running indefinitely, would you still see this as good for democracy?

This is not flamebait, I am genuinely curious.
You either believe in the democratic process or you don't.

The people voted and decide to end the term limits. Whether you like it or not is not the issue.

I didn't like it when Pres. Bush became the president the first time or second time. If the citizens of the country voted to end term limits for the Presidency, so be it. That's the democratic process.

Allowing the people vote on whether to eliminate term limits is democracy.

Maybe you prefer a new type of government? Who should decide the number of term limits a President gets in your new form of government?
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chris v
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Feb 16, 2009, 10:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by ThinkInsane View Post
Let me throw out a hypothetical to those of you that think ending term limits in Venezuela is a sign of healthy democracy: If three years ago, George W. Bush put on the ballot an item to end Presidential term limits and it passed, allowing Bush himself to keep running indefinitely, would you still see this as good for democracy?

This is not flamebait, I am genuinely curious.
I don't think it's a good thing in the long run, and I wouldn't have thought it a good thing here, but if their constitution allows for such a referendum, and it was held fairly, well, that's democracy. Sometimes, your side loses. We're lucky here that (to some small extent) we have protection from the tyranny of the majority. Some democracies obviously do not.

When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift.
     
Big Mac  (op)
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Feb 16, 2009, 11:59 PM
 
Originally Posted by OldManMac View Post
Without reading the thread all over again, I don't think anyone said that ending term limits in Venezuela is a sign of a healthy democracy.
I think that's exactly what your friend OAW implied.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
SpaceMonkey
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Feb 17, 2009, 12:07 AM
 
My way of looking at it is that it's neither "a sign of a healthy democracy" nor is it a sign of an unhealthy democracy. It's certainly bad for U.S. policy. So far as we know, Chavez will run for office again through an electoral process. However, if Chavez has the ability and desire to suspend elections in the future certainly having term limits isn't going to stop him.

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Ratm
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Feb 17, 2009, 12:09 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Right OAW, Venezuela is a model democracy.

I'm gonna tell my venezuelan friend, who left the country because of all the great democracy they have there

-t
better yet...why not go there and tell us all about it first hand. you might learn something new and loose a couple of pounds in the process. don't forget to send us pictures!
     
hyteckit
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Feb 17, 2009, 12:23 AM
 
Originally Posted by SpaceMonkey View Post
My way of looking at it is that it's neither "a sign of a healthy democracy" nor is it a sign of an unhealthy democracy. It's certainly bad for U.S. policy. So far as we know, Chavez will run for office again through an electoral process. However, if Chavez has the ability and desire to suspend elections in the future certainly having term limits isn't going to stop him.
It's the democratic process. So I agree that eliminating term limits is neither a sign of a bad democracy or good democracy.

The only time it's bad for democracy is when the right of the citizen to vote is taken away. If right to vote for a new President is taken away, then that is bad for democracy.

However, they are still voting for a President every few years.

US didn't have a 2 term limit for the Presidency until the 21st Amendment was passed in 1947. So US was a bad democracy until recently?
Bush Tax Cuts == Job Killer
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2.21 million jobs were LOST after 2 years of Bush Tax Cuts.
     
ThinkInsane
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Feb 17, 2009, 01:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by hyteckit View Post
Maybe you prefer a new type of government? Who should decide the number of term limits a President gets in your new form of government?
I'm fine with this form of government, thank you. I didn't have any sort of agenda in mind, I just asked an honest question. Frankly I was basing it more on comments I've read elsewhere, but those places aren't exactly where you can have a conversation (digg comments, for example, not necessarily you guys). It just seemed to me that there are many people that are pro-Chavez because he was anti-Bush, but these same people would have balked if Bush even proposed such a thing, let alone if it passed.

Personally, I am in favor of term limits. I don't care who is in office, I will never vote to abolish term limits if such a referendum should come up.
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Feb 17, 2009, 03:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by ThinkInsane View Post
Personally, I am in favor of term limits. I don't care who is in office, I will never vote to abolish term limits if such a referendum should come up.
I agree (I might vote for extending it to 3 terms, maybe not). But if such a referendum did pass, despite my vote, I would never think to call it "the demise of democracy in America." Would you?

I'm just trying to point out that the hysterics are not on the side of Chavez (for once).
     
hyteckit
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Feb 17, 2009, 03:52 PM
 
Actually, I wish the US Presidency has 6 year terms. I think 4 years is just too short to get anything accomplished. It's like 2 years of work and 2 years of campaigning.
Bush Tax Cuts == Job Killer
June 2001: 132,047,000 employed
June 2003: 129,839,000 employed
2.21 million jobs were LOST after 2 years of Bush Tax Cuts.
     
nonhuman
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Feb 17, 2009, 03:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by hyteckit View Post
Actually, I wish the US Presidency has 6 year terms. I think 4 years is just too short to get anything accomplished. It's like 2 years of work and 2 years of campaigning.
6 year, non-consecutive terms with no term limits.
     
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Feb 17, 2009, 04:08 PM
 
Nice. Then there's no point in campaigning at all.
     
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Feb 17, 2009, 06:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
I think that's exactly what your friend OAW implied.
Well that's what you get for "thinking".

My position on this is simple. The Venezuelan people voted to end term limits for all public office holders. Not just Chavez. And the electoral process still exists in Venezuela. So in my view that is just democracy in action. Now you may not like it, but that is neither here nor there. The burden is upon those who decry this as the "demise of democracy" to demonstrate how this is so given the facts of the situation. And this has certainly not been done in this thread.

Now personally, I can see the pros and the cons of term limits with respect to the democratic process. On the one hand, they are good because they restrict the undue influence of incumbency. On the other hand, they are bad because they restrict the ability of the people to re-elect a popular and effective politician. Just as there are pros and cons to contribution limits to campaigns. I just find it odd how there are those on the right who will criticize campaign contribution limits in the US as an impediment to "freedom of speech", but then turn around and criticize the decision by Venezuelans to allow themselves the "freedom of speech" to elect the candidate of their choice as many times as they want. But in any event, it's up to the people to decide ... on balance ... whether term limits are a good or a bad thing. And I for one don't fault the Venezuelan people because they dared to make a different decision than we have in the US.

When it comes to democracy in other countries, people have to decide which camp they are in.

The I-believe-in-democracy camp.

Or the I-believe-in-democracy-as-long-as-the-result-is-what-I-think-it-should-be camp.

And IMO, the criticism here seems to be more rooted in individuals being members of the latter camp than in any so-called "demise of democracy".

OAW
( Last edited by OAW; Feb 17, 2009 at 06:56 PM. )
     
SpaceMonkey
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Feb 17, 2009, 07:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by hyteckit View Post
Actually, I wish the US Presidency has 6 year terms. I think 4 years is just too short to get anything accomplished. It's like 2 years of work and 2 years of campaigning.
Then we'd just get 2 years of work and 4 years of campaigning.

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Feb 19, 2009, 09:58 AM
 
Let's face it: democracy, in its purest form, doesn't work very well at all.

Allowing people to vote on everything is stupid, time-wasting, and useless. Government-action-by-majority-decision is dumb. People are dumb, uninformed or have an agenda – why give them the power to have a say in most decisions?

I think a major part of why the US (and other similarly-modeled "Western democracies") were so successful is because they are so undemocratic. Come on, the US system sucks – it's cumbersome and unwieldy and annoying. You can have States of several million screw things up for other states of 25 million. Your most powerful judges were appointed, yadda yadda yadda. Of course the central feature of all this was that the people elected other people, and then those people could go and do their job without annoying interferences.

Of course, America's obsession with democracy has led to a big shift in the past 50 years. There's more people-participation now. More things are "voted on." Less executive decisions are made. It's more fair.

But I don't know if that's a good thing, at all. It opens important decisions up to people who have no business making those decisions in the first place. It opens up the media and lobby groups in unduly influence those decisions.

Hence, why the elimination of another "check and balance" in Venezuela might be an exercise in democracy, but it isn't a good one IMO.

greg
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Wiskedjak
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Feb 19, 2009, 10:21 AM
 
Chavez has not become a dictator with this move. He could still be voted out in the next election.

Term limits are not a requirement for democracy. If anything, term limits remove electoral options from the electorate and introduce the concept of "Lame Duck" leaders who have no motivation in their last term to appeal to the desires of the electorate. Canada has no term limits on it's politicians, nor has any government, Conservative or Liberal, ever even mused about proposing them.

Anyone saying that democracy is dead in Venezuela is just unhappy with the democratic decision made by Venezuelan voters.
     
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Feb 19, 2009, 12:32 PM
 
Wasn't Iraq a model democracy? The people voted Saddam Hussein into office every few years.
     
ShortcutToMoncton
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Feb 19, 2009, 03:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Hence, why the elimination of another "check and balance" in Venezuela might be an exercise in democracy, but it isn't a good one IMO.

greg
...and having said that, I admittedly didn't give much thought to how much of a "check and balance" term limits actually are.

Does it place more emphasis on short-sighted, media-friendly, sound-bite leadership goals? Interesting to think about.

greg
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Mar 1, 2009, 11:08 AM
 
Originally Posted by hyteckit View Post
Actually, I wish the US Presidency has 6 year terms. I think 4 years is just too short to get anything accomplished. It's like 2 years of work and 2 years of campaigning.
Australia has three-year terms and the possibility of holding early elections. Not much campaigning goes on, possibly as attending polls is compulsory. Although short terms keeps the bastards on their toes, it doesn't necessarily lead to instability—the last PM, John Howard, was in office 11 years.

If you gave them 6 years, they'd get very dirty and lazy, I imagine.
     
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Mar 1, 2009, 11:39 AM
 
I'm into Italian democracy.

11 month terms (on average) and politicians physically beating the crap out of each other in the house on a regular basis while most of the public completely ignores them.
Been inclined to wander... off the beaten track.
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Mar 1, 2009, 12:26 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7891856.stm

A real pity for those trapped in that country. Chavez is making himself the new Castro.
Isn't this like 5 years too late?
     
Big Mac  (op)
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Mar 1, 2009, 01:47 PM
 
True, but now it's official.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
   
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