Editorials: An overcrowded presidential field; and Tuberville’s stupid game

A cropped graphic by the Tribunal Electoral.

…and now there are 10

It will probably be fewer by the end of September when coalition talks have run their course, and may be yet again adjusted in the likely event that before the end of the year appeals courts uphold Ricardo Martinelli’s criminal conviction.

A ten-way race, or one with six or seven tickets, is not a good way to choose the government of a strong presidential system, especially if more than two of the tickets have support in the double digits.

(In a parliamentary system the math works differently, but we can look at Spain’s current quandary and see what mischief political and social fragmentation can do.)

Our current constitution, promulgated by a dictatorship that ended decades ago, had as its basis a political patronage deal. Government by division of the spoils has become ever creepier since the brass hats left the seats of power. The system and its constitution need to be replaced.

One of the reasons why Panama’s system of government needs to change is that someone whom the great majority of Panamanians have good reason to despise may grab the reins of power with only a third or even a quarter of the vote.

A multi-party system in which the parties stand for things would be a different matter, but here small parties are just businesses angling for jobs and government contracts for their members. We don’t get serious debate about serious ideas that way.

When it all falls apart, or if we have a constitutional convention to avoid it all falling apart, Panama should institute a runoff presidential election when no contender gets a majority of the vote. It’s better to have candidates who run to unite than those who play on divisions. The need to muster a majority would be a stride toward national unity that allows different sorts of people to work for common goals.

and Tommy doesn't know what day it is
Left to right, US Senator Tommy Tuberville, US Ambassador Mari Carme Aponte, US Representative Jerry Carl. Photo from Tuberville’s congressional website.

To be secure…

Tommy Tuberville, the football coach turned senator, is blocking appointments to senior military officers. He says he’s doing it because he’s against abortions and he’s against queers and he intends to carry out those policies by not only forcing them on the men and women in the US Armed Forces, but on their spouses and children as well.

He came to Panama last March, looking to counter the “economic risks of China’s growing influence in the global trade market” and to “combat drug and human trafficking in the region.”

Would ever Tuberville acknowledge that Panama has a say in Panamanian trade relations with China? Would he admit that Colombia’s Clan del Golfo is an offshoot of the old UUC death squads with which US-funded Colombian government forces were de facto allied as part of Plan Colombia?

All a game to him, but by disrupting the US military command structure as a political gesture, he may allow the other teams to score on America, a tally not kept in numbers on a scoreboard but in human lives.


Bert. It's Ernie that's evil.
Wikimedia photo by Anefo.

The people who are regarded as moral luminaries are those who forego ordinary pleasures themselves and find compensation in interfering with the pleasures of others.

Bertrand Russell

Bear in mind…

               A lie runs until it is overtaken by the truth.

Cuban Proverb               

               Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both.

Eleanor Roosevelt               

               Sweet is war to those who know it not.



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