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Obama 2012: Yes,
We [Sometimes] Can (El Tiempo, Colombia)
doesn't always triumph in elections. Not always. ... But sometimes it does. Sometimes
democracy allows for the astonishing triumph of those who embody truth. ... For
example, it just happened in the U.S., where Barak Obama won the presidential election
for the second time - in the most powerful country on earth. And he did it confronted
by those who believe the world is still Uncle
Tom's Cabin, and that Darwin and the state are the inventions of evil
Freemasons and communists."
By Juan Esteban Constaín
Translated By Liz Essary
November 19, 2012
- El Tiempo - Original Article (Spanish)
Anytime there is an election anywhere on earth, you hear
the ritual and proverbial phrase: "Above all, it is a triumph for
democracy." Of course, this is said by those who won, but also those who
lost: The elected and the voters, the good and the bad, the boys and the girls.
And then we hear talk of war or peace, of the economy, of what will be sold,
how difficult the campaign was and how worthy our rivals were. But one thing is
clear: Above all, it is a triumph of democracy.
There are moments, however, when this statement isn't true.
History has amassed such cynical moments and knows them by heart, can narrate
them, and remembers them one by one. Moments in which democracy serves (and
will serve) to triumph over all that is opposed to what democracy stands for:
intolerance, despotism, arbitrary acts, authoritarianism and hatred for
democracy. Often times the popular vote has even been a favored instrument of
tyrants and dictators.
This is one of the great paradoxes and one of the
greatest dangers to democracy as a form of government: sometimes the public is
wrong - and if the government does wrong, the people are punished, their bad
luck is deserved - and the majority may fervently embrace and fanatically impose
the stupidest and most brutal of causes, even those that are the antithesis of
the fragile values of democracy.
It's what Jacob Talmon,
the forgotten master, called "totalitarian
democracy": The ruthless dictatorship of the majority, the triumph of
the crowd lost on its way to the gallows, without knowing, shaking tambourines,
dancing, laughing and inwardly miserable. Thomas Carlyle said the
same with his devastating phrase, which has been cited many times in this
column: Democracy can be chaos provided by the ballot box.
This is why the great philosophers of contemporary democracy,
after the horror of Nazism, clarified that it isn't enough to have popular
elections and open ballots. No, democracy is a system of values, almost a worldview
that demands much more than votes: respect for minorities, tolerance, freedom,
in short, a moral commitment to something greater than applause. That is why
democracy doesn't always triumph in elections. Not always.
But sometimes it does. Sometimes democracy allows for the
astonishing triumph of those who embody truth. You be the judge of whether that's
good or bad. For example, it just happened in the United States, where Barak
Obama won the presidential election in his country for the second time, in the
most powerful country on earth. And he did it confronted by those who believe
the world is still Uncle Tom's Cabin,
and that Darwin and the state are the inventions of evil Freemasons and
Of course, Obama is president of the United States - the leader
of an empire. And you don't get there by reading books or telling the truth. And
there are powers that surpass and influence him, vested interests, and evil,
and lies, and unemployment, and the crisis, of course - all of that. But given
that this is the way things are and always will be - if the world were perfect,
it wouldn't be so - I prefer a guy like this a million times over: intelligent,
courageous, and liberal in the true sense of the word. A guy who even being who
he is, dared to discuss the state during his campaign, and remind everyone that
this is why he is there - so that hope isn't always just another act of
cynicism and wickedness.
Sometimes democracy itself is a triumph of democracy - a
failure of the lord and masters. And there are days like last Tuesday, when it
shouldn't embarrass us to be naïve. Sometimes, just sometimes, it is worth
believing that yes, we can.
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