December 22, 2013

Michelle Bachelet

Michelle Bachelet

Reality of all sorts will moderate her proceedings, but there is every possibility that she will in short order change the budgetary surplus into a deficit. One of her pet projects is free universal education up to and including university tuition, which is easy to institute. What is rather more difficult, as many countries have found, is to establish free universal education of high quality without bringing into being a huge and inefficient bureaucracy (the beneficiary of free universal education, whose products have to be employed somehow or other, because the educated”€”or semi-educated”€”unemployed are the most dangerous class in the world).

The new president also says she wants to change the constitution dictated by Pinochet’s jurists, although, having been successively minister of health, minister of defense, and twice president, you might have thought she would accept that it had given her a fair crack of the whip. But as she said after her election, Chileans are united in their desire for change.

This statement showed that notwithstanding her radicalism, she is a typical member of the political class that rules in most modern democracies wherever they might be. Chileans united? It is true that she won the election by a very handsome majority of votes cast: 62.16%. But 58.21% of the eligible electorate did not vote, which means that she received only 26% of the electorate’s votes. To believe that this represents unity or unanimity, a mandate for “€œfundamental change,”€ is to repeat the error of Salvador Allende, who believed the same in 1970 after receiving only 36.2% of all votes cast.

Of course, it might be that some or many of the 74% of adult Chileans who did not vote for her approve of her and did not vote because her election had been pronounced a foregone conclusion in the polls. But abstention was particularly prevalent among the young, who apparently have little faith, trust, or interest in the political process and the class to which it gives rise. Young people have not abandoned print newspapers to read the news online; they have abandoned print newspapers to tell each other about themselves by means of their phones.

Members of modern democratic countries”€™ political class believe that on winning an election by a process laid down by a constitution, the mandate of heaven has been conferred upon them. That is certainly the case with such preening popinjays as Anthony Blair and Barack Obama. Their motto is not vox populi, vox dei (the voice of the people is the voice of the gods), but that the votes of the people (for them, not for their opponents) are the voice of the gods. It is not to be expected that people who believe themselves to be the elect of God or gods should comport themselves with the modesty that becomes all human beings. For them, the democratic process is but a useful instrument in man’s eternal struggle for self-importance.



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