How do you know when your country is becoming a banana republic? Let’s call our imaginary banana republic “Costaguava”.
1. Voter do not judge foreign leaders on the basis of whether they are mass murderers, but rather on how they get along with the leader of Costaguava:
2. When political parties lose an election in Costaguava, they try to change the rules to invalidate the will of the voters:
RALEIGH, N.C. — Amid a tense and dramatic backdrop of outrage and frustration, North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature on Friday approved a sweeping package of restrictions on the power of the governor’s office in advance of the swearing in of the Democratic governor-elect, Roy Cooper.
Protesters spent a second day chanting and disrupting debate, as some were arrested and led away from the state legislative building in plastic wrist restraints.
3. In Costaguava, it’s difficult to discern the line between the leader’s official duties, and the ruling family’s far-flung business empire:
4. It’s hard to draw the line between real news and fake news in Costaguava.
Lots of people totally miss the elephant in the room, debating minor issues like whether Russia hacked the election. Trump said the CIA’s claim was ridiculous, but could offer no reason other than that, if true, it would make Trump’s win look less impressive. The problem with Trump’s claim has nothing at all to do with whether Trump is right or wrong, rather it reflects a deep flaw in his thinking process. Indeed Trump would be equally culpable for his remarks even if it turned out the CIA had been mistaken.
The problem here is that if you degenerate into a banana republic, decision-making will suffer, and eventually there will be a price to pay in terms of policy screw-ups. For a time, you might get lucky with economic policy, as when Pinochet stumbled into the Chicago Boys. But that’s a weak reed to lean on. In the long run, well-governed countries will do well, and banana republics will do poorly. Chile graduated from banana republic status in 1989. Venezuela never did. The US seems to be falling back into that category today.
PS. I just saw this item:
Earlier Saturday, he announced the nomination of South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney to head the Office of Management and Budget, choosing a tea partyer and fiscal conservative with no experience assembling a government spending plan.
No experience? Isn’t that unpresidented? What could go wrong?