In my co-edited book The Revolution in Venezuela: social and political change under Chávez, Margarita López-Maya and Luis E. Lander contributed an insightful article on the 2006 Venezuelan elections. The essay is worth revisiting because its analysis identifies the same crucial dynamics that underlie the current campaigns vying to win the Venezuelan presidency on October 7.
Ironically, in the now-famous video that seems likely to end his political career, it could be said that Mitt Romney was speaking truth to power.
Of course, "speaking truth to power" is a phrase normally used to describe courageous souls who risk their own hides to take a principled stand challenging those in power -- not exactly what Mitt was doing.
Rather, assuming he was speaking privately to like-minded multi-millionaires, the Republican presidential candidate told the $50,000-a-platers what they wanted to hear: that he hasn't any intention of helping the 47 per cent of Americans too poor to pay income tax. "My job is not to worry about those people."
As summer drew to a close, I took my kids for our annual pilgrimage to Toronto's CNE Midway. It was a gorgeous sunny Saturday: the smell of corn dogs in the air, the crowd diverse and gritty.
Then came a shocker. The midway company now has special entrances at each ride for people who pay an extra $20 per person per day (above the cost of the rides). They can then bypass the lineups for their favourite attractions.
Say what? Surely standing in line for a roller coaster is a supreme expression of democracy -- not to mention a chance to catch your breath between rides.
In An American Dilemma, published in 1944, Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal examined U.S. race relations, and concluded that the American "creed" would eventually vanquish widespread racism, and allow black and white Americans to live in greater harmony.
The election of a mixed-race U.S. president in 2008 did not mean the end of American racism. However, the victory of Barack Obama did confirm the guarded optimism of the conclusions Mrydal reached in his classic work of social science. A majority of those voting signalled it was all right for a non-white family to occupy the White House. Some 64 years after Myrdal documented the extent of systemic racism throughout the U.S., this definitely constituted progress.