Good! Now that I have your attention, we can dispense with the attention-grabbing headlines and all the hyperbole. At least within the pages of EscapeArtist Ecuador. Can’t make any similar promises for the Western media.
This piece is not about the United States of America (USA) or USA politics – well, not mostly. However, it is there we are driven to commence. In the year 1932, the good people of the USA chose to elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Forever FDR) as the 32nd President of the nation. They did this through the free and liberal power of the vote. Relying upon said same freedom, the good folks of the USA chose to reelect Franklin D. Roosevelt to not one…not two…but three additional subsequent terms of office. In all, FDR was elected President of the USA four separate times! http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/franklindroosevelt
Now, one can believe that FDR initiated a great USA economic recovery or that his policies marked the beginning of the end for USA economic prowess. One can believe that FDR significantly contributed to the Allied victory in WW II, or tat he was just a bystander, benefiting from the actions of others. Doesn’t matter how you see FDR, but one thing can’t be denied. The people of the USA, through sheer will and exercising the freedom of the vote, saw fit to select FDR as the best candidate for President on four separate and consecutive occasions.
Maybe I am just an optimist, but I have to believe that the average USA voter did this with full sound mind and cognizant knowledge. I just don’t choose to believe that a slew of US citizens were confused between, say, Hoover and Roosevelt and digressed to a thought process like this, “Hmmmmm, now which of them fellas was the one with the rounded glasses again? Eh, heck, I’ll just take a guess it was Roosevelt.” I don’t think that’s how ballots were cast. Not even much later in Florida during the infamous “chad incident”.
As such, the average USA citizen freely chose to be represented by FDR for four consecutive presidential terms. Now, FDR’s good fortune is that he was born in the USA and not Ecuador. That mere divine inspiration and good fortune of Providence is apparently the only thing that separates FDR’s fate from being a recognized leader of the free world, for which he is known, as opposed to being considered just another thug dictator. I can hear the gasps right now.
In Ecuador, President Rafael Correa has seen his soaring popularity be rewarded with a second presidential term of office. Since the Ecuadorean Constitution serves to inexplicably curtail consecutive presidential terms to only two, President Correa cannot run for reelection in the subsequent elections, still years away. The reason this is still a timely topic now is because a strong public movement is already afoot to call for a Constitutional Amendment to eradicate the term limit provisions. Let’s ponder that for a moment.
In the USA, when its great citizenry opted to freely choose the reelection of FDR to four consecutive terms as President, the leaders in charge of the USA’s democratic institutions and principles, reacted exactly how we would expect the bearers of freedom and liberty to respond – they curtailed the same freedoms and liberties. Can’t be having any of the “freedom funny business”, reelecting the same guy to office over and over again. Alas, it is quite arguably possible to trace the demise of USA freedom and liberty, along with the concurrent rise of the Nanny State, to this singular historical act. Congress, not wanting any “freedom curtailed”, decided it was just too dangerous to let those “public louts” make up their own minds as to who they should elect as President and how often. Of course, another freedom, quite conveniently, that Congress never wanted curtailed, was the ability to reelect Congressmen and Senators over and over again, ad infinitum. So, with the end of FDR’s final reelection in 1944, presidential term limits were placed on the average USA citizen’s right to freely choose, who they wanted to represent them as President.
Whenever I ponder that precise moment, ink to paper, I can’t help wonder what was going on in the minds of men? Did they not recognize that term limits were already available? It is called the vote. Don’t want the same guy…vote for the other guy…term rightfully limited. Did they just think the average USA citizen wasn’t smart enough to understand how to cast their vote for the “best option” (or “least worst” option)?
Now, flash forward to Ecuador circa 2014. The democratic and free people of Ecuador, with sound mind and will, are actively looking to forge forward with the same process as in the USA, only in reverse. They are questioning why their freedom to vote and to choose is being arbitrarily limited, as though they weren’t capable enough of reaching their own objective conclusions? They are wondering why someone else needs to decide for them, under the guise of “greater freedom”, how often they can elect a desired, respected and appreciated candidate? How strange would it be to see Ecuador reverse the trend, started in the USA after FDR? How odd would it be to see Ecuador opt for greater freedom of choice, in the wake of a USA policy which seems to consistently favor less similar choice?
Let’s consider the Correa mandate. I believe Ecuador would be better off in terms of economic policy, infrastructure evolution, domestic job creation and political party maturation (I will explain the latter, shortly), by the reelection of President Rafael Correa. One doesn’t have to agree with my viewpoint, but let us adopt it as an arguable premise.
President Correa is a USA educated economist. We won’t hold that against him, since he apparently has not brought his own printing press and called the subsequent monetary flow “true economic growth”. However, his USA education credentials are readily recognizable throughout the world. He has proven adept at managing even the most complex and risky economic machinations, like the debt default decision. He has enhanced GDP, kept inflation low and willed a fledgling economic Ecuadorean middle class. By most text book definitions of “economic success”, Ecuador is living a renaissance of economic enlightenment.
Another presidential term for Rafael Correa would mean a consistent continuation of the infrastructure policy, which has yielded more new roads, bridges, schools, police stations and hospitals under 5 years of President Correa, then in the previous 50 years combined. The revitalization of Ecuador’s infrastructure network, having fallen into decay after decades of neglect, has not only been resurrected, but re-energized, under Correa.
After decades of stagnant job creation growth and increased reliance on imports, President Correa has ushered in a new wave of domestic industry, coupled with the concurrent domestic job creation explosion, which has seen Ecuador’s unemployment rate bottom at a scant 4.6%. That is an enviable figure anywhere in the world, let alone in a Latin America often historically plagued by high unemployment rates.
Under President Correa, Ecuador has finally seen political stability under a single leader and single political party, the PAIS 35 coalition. This maturation process, where political policy and institutions are given a chance to establish a foothold and evolve is a necessary part of the democratic political process. Nothing speaks to the dearth of democracy, like a one-party system. Given Correa’s popularity, his own party has flourished. However, it has also forced opposition parties to think smarter, bigger and push more prominently for recognition. Ironically, Correa’s popularity has not only spurred on the maturation of his own party, but that of opposition parties as well. Such choices and varying political perspectives are essential to democracy flourishing. Quite ironically, a Constitutional Amendment ending presidential term limits would spark an epic political debate and spirited 2017 Presidential race, which is exactly what a democracy like Ecuador needs to flourish.
If one disagrees with me and how I interpret the Correa Presidency…great! However, why not let the Ecuadorean voter freely choose and decide for themselves, without cumbersome and meddlesome interference by government edict. If it is truly about, “We the people”, whether in the USA or Ecuador, why limit their choices, when they already possess the ultimate limiting tool – the freedom to cast a ballot vote.
Why do I write about this still ethereal event, in 2014 no less? Simple. Because I can just about assure you – and you heard it here, first, circa 2014 – that if the Ecuadorean Constitution is, in fact, amended, the Western media will immediately cry “foul” and label the democratically elected President Correa a “dictator”. If so, did that make FDR a dictator? Besides the sheer accident of birth location, how does one differ from the other? How do we label FDR a leader of freedom and subsequently suggest that a President Correa, elected to a third term, not even a fourth, is an Ecuadorean dictator?
A simple “straw man argument” on my part? Perhaps, but I think not. The movement to abolish the Ecuadorean Constitutional restriction is strong and organized. I have a sense it will meet with success. Let us watch what the Western media does then. Let us watch what labels it chooses to apply and what substantive argument it gives to color those labels.
I must confess. I am not a fan of FDR. However, when all is said and done, I deeply respect the freedom of choice exercised by every U.S. American, who freely cast their ballot for FDR…not once…not twice…not even on just three occasions, but on four separate and distinct occasions…freely, willfully and with purpose. As it should be the right in any true democracy. What a poor USA decision to install presidential term limits did to erode global democracy, an exact and equal opposite reaction in Ecuador could go a long way towards restoring said democracy on a national and, dare I say, global scale. Dictator or beloved leader? The turn of a phrase.