Zelaya Returns

The Heritage Foundation reports that Manuel Zelaya has returned to Honduras, a move “welcomed” by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Who’s Manuel Zelaya?  His name might look familiar, as it comes from a story that broke during the early days of the Obama Administration.  He was the president of Honduras, and was deposed in a military coup.

The military ran Zelaya out of the country because he shredded the laws and constitution of Honduras, including a tendency to ignore legal orders from the courts.  He angrily confronted every civic institution that tried to limit his power.  His administration was hounded by charges of corruption and crony capitalism.  He placed much of the blame for his downfall on “the right wing of the United States.”

It’s not surprising the Obama Administration sees him as a kindred spirit.

The Administration tried to stuff Zelaya right back into office in 2009, but it didn’t work out.  Now they’ve worked hand-in-hand with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela to get him back into the country, so his supporters can try changing the constitution to reinstall him in office.  If that doesn’t work, they’re talking about electing his wife, to slip him in through the back door.  The election that returns this Chavez puppet to power, one way or the other, will be swimming in Venezuelan oil money.

The Zelaya saga highlights the foolishness of making a fetish over democratic elections, without a corresponding respect for the limitations of government.  The American Left makes a great show of anger over the military coup that deposed Zelaya, without asking uncomfortable questions about the reason for his deposition.  It is unlikely they would be so willing to extend the same courtesy to a would-be dictator who didn’t mask his lust for power in the language of socialism.

The constraints placed upon a leader are at least as important as the manner of his selection.  A provocative case can be made they are more important.  “Free” elections must be about more than installing the next in a long series of tyrants. 

The electoral process itself is too easily corrupted, when the prize is unrestricted power.  This corruption can be more subtle than blatant banana-republic intimidation and ballot-box stuffing.  It is no coincidence that American elections have degenerated into farce, even as the technology to hold them swiftly and accurately has improved.   The corrupted nature of our public offices has inexorably corrupted the elections which fill them.  Too many powerful interests have too much to gain by putting “their” guy or gal into crucial seats. 

Are you better off living in a limited republic administered by people born into office, or a democracy whose elected leadership has unlimited power?  I’m afraid that’s a trick question, because democracy inevitably melts away when the elected leaders decide they don’t want to give up all that wonderful power.  Likewise, the limits of a republic always dissolve when the leadership is not refreshed through frequent and vigorous elections.  The people of Honduras, with the enthusiastic support of the Obama Administration, are about to receive another unpleasant lesson along those lines.