Politics, finally

Why I welcome the incoming MUD majority's decision to choose the new A.N. president by secret ballot, and you should too.

MUD’s soon to be installed caucus (fracción parlamentaria) will meet privately today to choose the next President of the National Assembly by secret ballot, after efforts to stitch up the decision via backroom-deal failed.

There’s been quite a lot of handwringing in opposition circles about the need for a vote at all.

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Personally, I’m kind of appalled…at all the handwringing.

For all the opposition’s supposed rejection of anti-politics, the second a bit of political competition breaks out suddenly people reach for the smelling salts. That’s internalized chavismo, as though competition for powerful positions were somehow undignified or beneath us.

Nada de eso, people. This is politics. There’s power. There are people who want power. And so you have competition. That’s entirely natural, fully to be expected and 100% legitimate. That this needs stating at all strikes me as strange, and worrying.

Both Henry Ramos and Julio Borges lead major political parties in Venezuela, both are fully within their rights to aspire to leadership roles. And because both belong to a coalition that takes liberal principles seriously, it’s natural and right that they compete for that power role openly and that a decision is made through the vote of the people they aspire to lead: MUD’s deputies.

After all, the skills it will take to win a majority of the MUD caucus and obtain the A.N. presidency are very much the same skills it will take to run the National Assembly effectively: coalition building, glad-handling, horse-trading and the kind of micro-level understanding and attention to the needs and priorities of incoming A.N. members that a parliamentary leader needs to have in his blood. Competition allows us to discover who is better at this stuff. We need it.

So let’s not be more papist than the pope here. It’s the other side whose conception of politics is centered on stifling competition and stitching up decisions behind closed doors. They’re the anti-politics party. We’re the pro-politics party.

Well, this is what politics looks like! And not a moment too soon.