Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Broader View Of Dictators

The Wall Street Journal is the best publication I read on a daily basis.  It provides a breadth of national and international coverage and the best commentaries and editorials, period.  Those of you who also subscribe will likely agree with me on this.

Today columnist Bret Stephens published a column titled, "What Samuel Huntington Knew", which can be read online HERE if you spend the bucks to subscribe.  Learn about Huntington HERE.

Of course, I'm not going to attempt to give you the whole story, but it deals with the fall, and subsequent apparent rise, of dictatorial forms of government around the world, using contemporary venues and players as examples.  It's quite excellent and, as you probably suspect, got my attention.

Stephens tells us that Huntington, whom he describes as "the great Harvard political scientist", asked the question in 1991, "What would happen if the American model no longer embodied strength and success, no longer seemed to be the winning model?"  He tells us that the world seemed to be embracing democracy, capitalism, etc.

Then he describes the resurgence of dictators, citing middle eastern and Europeans as an example.  And he folds in Russia, too, and indicates that "the people" seemed to want it that way.  He goes on to describe the ebb and flow of government models and - here's my punch line - includes this paragraph near the end:
"At some point the momentum will shift back. That, too, is inevitable. The dictators will err; their corruption will become excessive; their cynicism will become transparent to their own rank-and-file. A new democratic wave will begin to build."

I read that paragraph and the light went on.  Then went back and re-read the entire essay again.  As I did so I found myself contemplating parallels to some of the dictatorial behaviors described to some of the circumstances we find ourselves facing here in Costa Mesa.

No, "our" dictator hasn't killed millions of people, but neither have most of the rulers described in the essay.   He does share many of the authoritarian characteristics of those men, though.

Stephens punch line is that things change, and that it might take five years - or fifty.  I choked on that last part.  Our change needs to happen now - this year - by sending "our" dictator packing and replacing him with those who can actually govern this city with an even hand and not a personal political agenda.

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