Editorials: Election “reform;” and Those emails

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sexual buffalo chips
Legislator Sergio “The Sexual Buffalo” Gálvez’s gift stash. The Electoral Tribunal and some legislators want to end this kind of campaigning, but most of the politicians want to extend it.

A failed effort to rig a failed system

The Electoral Tribunal submitted a tepid but generally progressive set of election law changes to the National Assembly. Then the political caste and their financiers submitted some 30 amendments, almost all of them designed to strengthen the role of secret money, reduce public participation and shore up the powers of discredited party bosses. They got to arguing among themselves about which faction should be favored by which tweaks, and the whole mess was put off until the next legislative session, which might or might not be a special session to deal with the matter.

President Varela would be well advised not to call a special session, but instead to act on convening a constitutional convention that would supersede all of these ugly maneuvers. But of course, the rules for electing delegates to a such a constituent assembly would also be central to the process.

Doesn’t the president get it? Panama’s problems won’t be addressed by a photo op, a press release, a television appearance, an unpublished study, a few tweaks to an unfair law or the report of a blue ribbon committee of the most illustrious surnames of the white minority. We need basic changes in the ways we run our public affairs, based on meaningful, informed and equitable participation by all sectors of the Panamanian people.

If that’s what Varela’s money people and party leaders don’t want, he should stop listening to them for a moment and consider the international disrepute and consequent problems that this crowd has brought down upon Panama. It is to the point that the old games don’t work anymore.

It matters whether those emails say…

“Hey Vladimir, the missile code is _____” or

“Anthony, you disgusting pervert! I’m personally too busy to step on a worm like you at the moment, but be assured that there will be payback for the grief and distractions you are causing for my right-hand woman.”

Probably the new emails on which Donald Trump and his gang of deplorable white supremacists hang their White House ambitions say neither thing — but we don’t know, and neither does Donald Trump. Nobody should change his or her vote because of this latest thing without the facts having been disclosed, which they have not been so far.

The FBI appears to be playing events by the book. New evidence comes in on an old investigation, and it gets examined. Don’t go accusing them of advancing a political agenda over this, at least not without a lot more information to back up such a claim.

Such caution should not deter the public and the politicians from examining the FBI and its entire history, much of which is truly sordid. The FBI should be looked at in combination with what has happened to the American prosecutorial system at all levels and US law enforcement at all levels. The culture of mass imprisonment and the failed “War on Drugs” should be sufficent to prompt such a profound and soul-searching review. This late complication in a political campaign is probably just a minor footnote in such an undertaking.

Bear in mind…

We may not imagine how our lives could be more frustrating and complex — but Congress can.
Cullen Hightower

 

We all do better when we all do better.
Paul Wellstone

 

Natives who beat drums to drive off evil spirits are objects of scorn to smart Americans who blow horns to break up traffic jams.
Mary Ellen Kelly

 

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