Sunday, January 25, 2009

I'm no fan of Bush, but ...

From this mornings Daily Monitor:

My first thought was that this is a pretty extreme take on George W. Bush's presidency, especially considering most Ugandans I know like him. He is no butcher like Hitler, Pol Pot or Stalin. On further thought though, one interpretation of this comic could be reasonable.

The political leaders Bush joins in the comic are all well known for their anti-democratic practices. In most cases, they eliminated all checks to their power and ensured future generations had a difficult time creating a democratic system.

I have always been very concerned by the politicization of the justice department during Bush's tenure (a DOJ report on it is available here). By making such an important part of our government a political entity, it not only decreases an important check to power, it also increases the value of power through patronage.

Most economic models of politics incorporate the economically tangible benefits to control. An important outcome is that when the value of power increases, people will fight harder to get into power, and to keep power. For instance, most African countries have few limits to the powers of leaders, and they have a poor record of democracy.

Bush left office without trying to keep power. I fear though that if we allow the kind of politicization that his administration attempted, our democracy will be severely weakened and may not last long.

Weber famously thought that bureaucracy was one of the most important causes of the development of capitalism. Perhaps an a-political bureaucracy is one of the most important causes of the development of strong democracies.

No comments: