TWO FAMILIES THAT COULD OWN A COUNTRY
There is much discussion
about the change in the Venezuelan constitution that would permit
unlimited re-election of the president. But I have been
thinking about the United States White House during the past few days
and the possibility that the Bush and Clinton families could run the
country for possibly fifty-two years or even more.
Think about this: if
Hilary Clinton should be elected the next president, the Bush and
Clinton family will have controlled the presidency for twenty-four
years. If she wins re-election in 2012, we are talking about twenty-eight years. If
we include the time that George H. W. Bush was vice-president under
President Reagan, the years would increase to thirty-six years that the
Bushes and Clintons have been in the presidential palace.
Now imagine that Jeb Bush,
who will be 63 in 2016, spends the next eight years in the White House
and Chelsea Clinton, who will be only 44 in the election year of 2024,
wins the votes of the electoral college for eight more years. We're talking about the possibility of fifty-two years of Bush-Clinton family presidents and vice-presidents.
That is all legally possible under the constitution of the United States.
My advice to the White House and its spokespeople in regard to the proposed constitutional changes in Venezuela: keep your mouths shut, lest U.S. citizens wake up to the reality there.
THE JANITORS AND THE PROFESSORS
Article 109 of the current Venezuelan constitution recognizes the autonomy of the universities. Nevertheless,
the National Assembly has proposed that professors, students and
employees of the university should all have equal rights in the
selection of the university authorities.
The idea has brought diverse reactions. The president of the professors' organization and the president of the students' organization don't like the idea. The president of the workers' union does, and said it is something they have desired for years.
The matter is certainly thought-provoking. There are janitors and bus drivers at the universities who have been there longer than many professors and most of the students. Are they not also an important part of the institutions? Are they not, indeed, an essential part of the operation? In a socialistic society, why should they be excluded from the decision as to who will run the public institution.
After all, if all the
citizens of a country can select the president of their nation, why
can't all the members of a public organization such as a university
select their authorities?
Talking to a professor with a long commitment in the Central University of Venezuela, he expressed his support of the idea. But
he also added that it would be important to have some requirements for
a person to be elected and, in fact, the constitution does present some.
The concern of the professor was the possibility that the students, who are the majority, could elect a student as president. He may be right in having that concern. But
after pondering the matter for a few days I find myself thinking that
maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a student as president of the
One of the things that I
enjoy about living in Venezuela in these times is that everyday when I
buy the morning newspaper, my way of thinking is being challenged. It is invigorating.
I wonder if the Venezuelan university authorities also find critical thinking stimulating?
WHY DOESN'T THE KING RUN FOR RE-ELECTION?
While we are on the topic
of elections, I wonder why Spain doesn't find someway to elect their
king if they want to continue having a royal family. It
really doesn't take much creative thinking to see it as a very
appropriate way to choose the person who will occupy the royal throne
in this twenty-first century. It could even be another project of the Bush administration to bring more democracy into the world. Having
successfully brought "democracy" to Iraq maybe the U.S. could now
invade Spain, oust King Juan Carlos, and call for elections within a
These thoughts come to mind
because the King is reported to have told President Chávez to "shut up"
at the recent Ibero-American summit in Chile. What right does a person, who wasn't elected democratically by anyone, have to tell the president of another country to shut up?
It's a strange, strange world we live in Master Jack.
(Charles Hardy is author of Cowboy in Caracas: A North American's Memoir of Venezuela's Democratic Revolution, published by Curbstone Press (www.curbstone.org). Other essays by Hardy can be found on his personal blog www.cowboyincaracas.com. You may write him at [email protected].)