Editorials: Panama’s decision and the Democrats Abroad primary

debate 1
One vacant podium at the first debate, for the guy fleeing a prison sentence to the Nicaraguan Embassy. Color that guy and his probable eventual stand-in irrelevant. Photo by the Tribunal Electoral.

Firm on principles, skeptical about passions: vote wisely and keep an open mind

It is predicted that a week from today, the March rains begin but there will be a delay before the rainy season begins in earnest in May or June. Depending on what it is, we will have a better idea of what to plant and when,

If THAT is an inexact science, consider the upcoming elections. The leader in the polls for a long time was Ricardo Martinelli, whose supporters told us that “he stole, but he got things done.”

Consider what that says about Panamanian political culture, but then he ran into the legal culture segment of that, and before the argument got to “but” judges called a full stop and set the wheels in motion for him to either be in prison or holed up in the Nicaraguan Embassy come Election Day. There is little indication that the former president’s former support will shift to his journeyman political operative stand-in. Mulino may not be as ridiculous a substitute as the non-entity Mimito Arias was in 2014, but the general rule is that personality cults aren’t transferable.

It would leave us with an eight-sided choice with at the moment four or five serious contenders. The president predicts that a quarter of the vote can win the presidency this year. It’s a reasonable expectation and a good reason to draft a new constitution.

There are unflattering things to say about each of the presidential candidate and organized troll squads are saying them. So many of the negative messages are so scurrilous. There are the overblown appeals to ideological hatreds of political, religious, racial or gender stereotypes. There all all the guilt by association arguments. There are presumptions that water never passes under bridges and people never learn from mistakes. There are simplistic economic dogmas.

We are coming toward the end of a period of horrendous economic mismanagement. The nation is deeply in debt and having more than the usual trouble paying its bills on time. The reckoning is upon us for an immensely destructive 27-year-long mining scam crime wave.

Scratch the vote buyers off the list of acceptable possibilities. Scratch off anyone who as ever ever had, either personally or in their families, an ownership or management stake in the companies of that mining boondoggle. That applies to both the Petaquilla gold mine at the start and the First Quantum copper mine of now. Scratch off those who faced public health crises and chose to let people die rather than own up to discomforting truths. Scratch off those who stole from us. Scatch off those who preach hatred.

Be understanding, but hesitant to hand out free passes, for lesser faults. If they talk foolishness about crime, or economics, or education, those are common enough maladies that shouldn’t go unchallenged. We won’t be electing an all-knowing sage or a saint. Better, however, if we elect someone willing to listen to criticism once in office.

After the election we are likely to have a president against whom most eligible Panamanians voted and a fragmented collection of politicians down the ballot. They – AND WE AS A SOCIETY – will then have to work out some agreements to move in any positive direction.

The failed crime boss says he was framed. As expected.

Panama Dems: Vote now in the Democrats Abroad Primary

Unless Mother Nature calls time on him, Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee in this November’s US presidential election. Donald Trump, although he shows increasing signs of dementia and has many legal troubles, seems to be headed toward that contest as the Republican nominee.

There is more, however, to an election year than the race to the wire in the most important contest. For one thing, don’t let anybody browbeat you about how casting a protest vote in the Democratic primary means a vote for the Republican in the fall. History has repeatedly shown that to be untrue.

With a foreign head of state using US-supplied arms to commit genocide and drag much of the Middle East into an ever wider war, the Michigan primary, with its double-digit vote for “uncommitted,” was taken as a sign of the state’s large Arab-American population protesting against US participation in Netanyahu’s war. A lot of damage has been done and it puts Michigan Democrats in a precarious situation. But look deeper into those results and it’s even worse.

Young voters are deeply disenchanted over this war. African-American voters, not only the Muslims among them in the state where Malcolm X was raised, are also annoyed by US support for a racist massacre of a civilian population, in which many thousands of children have already been killed.

Biden needs to change course to lead Democrats to victory in November, and protest votes in the primaries are one time-honored way to tell him so. Democrats living abroad are in particularly good position to see the US reputation in the world’s eyes, not only as to events in the countries and regions where we live.

There have been changes over the decades, but Democrats Abroad has its roots in the mainly antiwar Democrats of the Vietnam War era. We may not have even had delegates then, but what Democrats living overseas reported to their fellow party members in the USA did register into US political discourse of those times.

A vote for “uncommitted,” or a vote for Marianne Williamson, tells Joe Biden to cut his political damages and cut of Bibi Netanyahu. No matter if some Republican pro-Israel lobby calls those of us who vote those ways racist. In fact, in defiance of AIPAC.

Maybe you have a different point of view and want to fully support President Biden and everything he has done. If you are a Democrat living in Panama, the Democrats Abroad Global Presidential Primary is YOUR chance to express that opinion.

Then there are the nuts and bolts of preparing for November, for all factions of Panama’s Democrats. To vote via the Democrats Abroad website, you get put through hoops about being registered to vote and ordering your ballots in the state where you vote, so that your absentee choice will count in November.

You also join Democrats Abroad when registering and voting on the global website. That’s reasonably important post-November, as our country chapter here in Panama is fairly moribund. There is only one in-person primary voting place, in Alto Boquete, which makes it hard for the majority of black Democrats, who live in the Panama City – Colon metro area, to vote that way. Secret purge trials, overt support for identity theft guys and operatives from major international fraud organizations, the embrace of toxic bullying corporate cultures, non-support of organized labor either here or in the USA, a withdrawal from outreach into the America community, libel on the country chapter’s Facebook page – the current leadership in Panama is destructive, opaque and barely active. You must be a member of the global organization to do much about that sad state of affairs at the time for such things in early 2025.

Go to the Democrats Abroad Global Presidential Primary page and then order your primary ballot form here. The instruction and procedures could use a bit of simplification, but if you have questions or problems, you may want to take them up with the unofficial but more participatory Democrats here, the Panama Democrats Club on Facebook.

And do have the political sense to distinguish between primary and general elections. Democrats who care to advance the cause know to take out our differences in the primaries and come together behind the ticket in the fall.

Bertrand Russell photo by Howard Coster (1935) that belongs to the British National Portrait Gallery.

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.

Bertrand Russell

Bear in mind…

I stopped being a quiet peacekeeper and started being a loud peacemaker. My anger was good.

Glennon Doyle

War is a profession by which a man cannot live honorably; an employment by which the soldier, if he would reap any profit, is obliged to be false, rapacious, and cruel.

Niccolo Machiavelli

One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.

Marie Curie


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