U.S. President Donald Trump has been using the Venezuela crisis to try to preach lessons to and make threats against the nation about its adherence to democracy. Trump and Washington have absolutely rejected the National Constituent Assembly elected by eight million Venezuelans as “a sham,” taking the country towards “dictatorship” and announced new sets of measures to not only outlaw the ANC but also to punish anyone or any country doing business with it.
But, how does the leader of a nation in which winning a majority of votes does not necessarily guarantee victory preach to any other country about free and fair elections?
Where does the U.S. president derive the legitimate authority to dictate to Venezuela about respecting democracy and democratically established institutions?
The U.S. record of unfair representational politics is long, but recent history can demonstrate many instances of the will of the majority being thwarted by or for a minority. Take the following three examples:
1. President Trump and his Republican Party have shown, in just six months, how they will resort to changing established rules to get their way in congressional or senate votes anytime they feel threatened by a Democratic numerical challenge.
2. The Republicans also left the U.S. Supreme Court in an interminable tie for eight years under President Barack Obama, refusing to appoint a ninth judge until it could have been a Republican, under Trump.
3. George W. Bush was elected U.S. president despite Democratic Party candidate Al Gore winning the majority of the votes cast, in an election in which thousands were also mechanically disenfranchised.
The increasing use and faulty exercise of Westminster and other traditional Western-style European-designed election models in developing nations continues to throw up direct challenges to the acclaimed veracity of their representational reliability.
But their bewildered patrons continue to loudly preach advice — that they don't take themselves — to developing nations with larger slices of success in the exercise of truly democratic home-grown election exercises.
Uncle Sam has always told his crony allies: “Do as I say, not as I do!”
But those days are long gone — and when it comes to holding free and fair elections, Venezuela has shown, with 22 under its belt since 1998, that it is Caracas that can give Washington a lesson or two.
Earl Bousquet is a Saint Lucia-based veteran Caribbean journalist.