Voting Democracy Away, February 13, 2009
The Harvard Crimson
Your vague hint at Venezuela’s “lack of durable democratic institutions” is striking considering the context. It is, after all, democracy that gave rise to the autocratic regime run by Hugo Chávez. The majority of Venezuelans were seduced by the promise of wealth supposedly being denied to them by the very rich and the very foreign. What they wanted was a thug and what they got was a thug—democracy at work. The consequence, as we have seen, is economic disaster. The poor are more destitute than ever and the rich have become an even smaller minority. We can reasonably conclude that what is lacking in Venezuela is not democracy, but a system to check the unrestrained power of the mob. In other words, Venezuela needs a strong constitution limiting democratic authority and defining individual rights. It ought to become a constitutional republic.