Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Friday, February 01, 2008

India had three generations of Nehru/Gandhi prime ministers, but not in a continuous streak

Op-Ed Columnist The Dynastic Question By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF NYT: January 31, 2008
We Americans snicker patronizingly as “democratic” Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Singapore, India and Argentina hand over power to a wife or child of a former leader. Yet I can’t find any example of even the most rinky-dink “democracy” confining power continuously for seven terms over 28 years to four people from two families. (And that’s not counting George H.W. Bush’s eight years as vice president.)
My Thursday column asks whether we should be concerned about political dynasties, and specifically by the fact that if Hillary Rodham Clinton is elected president for two terms, then 40 percent of Americans will have spent their entire lives under the presidency of a Bush or a Clinton.
My own take is that we should be concerned, and that it’s preferable to have fresh blood — but that this is only a presumption. If a president’s child or spouse is distinctly preferable to other candidates, then that’s a reason to go with the person. But I do think this is an issue that we should discuss, rather than back into.
Some other countries, particularly in South Asia, have had dynastic democracies. India had three generations of Nehru/Gandhi prime ministers, but not in a continuous streak. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had leader/widow/children combinations, and Pakistan is now preparing its third generation Bhutto for leadership. Singapore’s founder, Lee Kuan Yew, has been succeeded by his son. But in every one of those cases, there were outsiders in power inbetween.
I frankly couldn’t find a single case of a nominal democracy continuously dividing power among parents/children/spouses over 28 years. If you know of such a case, with continuous power and multiple people (as opposed to Lee Kuan Yew holding power personally), then list it below. Obviously monarchies and dictatorships don’t count. More broadly, I invite any other comments on the column. Comments (522) Permalink
Op-Ed Columnist America’s Riveting Democracy By ROGER COHEN NYT: January 31, 2008 BERLIN
As this election campaign is demonstrating, the United States remains the most vital, open, self-renewing and democratic society on earth. In December 2007, there were 1,059,793 naturalization applications pending: one million people are not clamoring to join a nation in eclipse.
To imagine that a European Union plagued by self-doubt and existential uncertainty (where are Europe’s borders?), or a China of treacherous internal contradictions, can become powers of influence equal to the United States within the next half-century is implausible. America must work closely with them, but inspiration and leadership are unlikely to come from them.
Turbulent global markets following the lead of Wall Street have given the lie to the “decoupling” theory.
Where the American economy goes, the world tends to follow. As for Pax Americana, it’s the unsung success story that gives pessimistic pontificators the time and luxury to postulate its demise.
At a piddling 232 years old, the United States is a mere teen in historical terms. Demography, Google and the political fever of these primaries all indicate its vigor. Obamania shows how great America’s hold on the planetary imagination remains.
Far from paradoxical, the global fascination with this election is in fact logical. For where America leads, with post-Bush dexterity and purpose, the world will still follow. Blog: www.iht.com/passages

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