I have looked at Latino history in America and have come to accept the fact that ours is an imperfect democracy run by the demands of the moment that, at times, have dictated winners and losers. I subscribe however, to the notion that even though the Latino community had and continues to have major challenges in this country, the way to the future is for those that endure and commit to the promise of our Constitution and our democracy.
A diminished nation in this regard should not be anywhere close to our vision for the future. We want to continue to stand for an America that is fair at home and fair and powerful in the world.
I say this in the face of a cyclical decadence that is overtaking Western Civilization. The best example of that is the British Empire that before World War II boasted that the sun never set on its lands and now appears to be going forward without its close friends in Europe and with the possibility that another referendum may may lead to the break up its island homeland.
Worse is the appearance in the contemporary scene of the strongman that defies democratic principles and seeks to rule by personal power. In this regard, Russia, the most important remnant of the Soviet Union, created democratic institutions that were too weak to withstand the onslaught of Vladimir Putin who has become a dictator and an important player in the world.
A strongman can also create what we presently see in what Nicolas Maduro has done in Venezuela, a failed state where even the elected representative of the people may not participate in its governance. Venezuela used to be one of the richest and most stable states in Latin America and is now a basket case with people standing in long lines for what little food is available.
One of the first things that Putin, Maduro and Hugo Chavez did, was to badmouth and abolish the free press as a way to control the people of their countries. Eliminating free outlets of information was the first step in creating the framework of a dictatorship
America is facing a somewhat similar challenge in our governance structure as we are in the middle of an attack on our free press. “Fake news” is a label designed to discredit reports of the truth in their various forms.
Decadence is at our doorstep and threatens the core of our institutional life. Remember the richest 1 percent that everyone has been talking about for some time?
Well, the group is now in charge of our executive branch. While being rich may offer an advantage for public service, it diminishes the country when that service is provided for the benefit of those few.
Western Civilization has had a run of almost 600 years beginning with the Renaissance in 1440. The development of the world under the leadership of this civilization has been uneven as progress has come later or slower in certain regions.
These regions and others have and are providing immigrants to the United States that offer great energy for American progress. The immigrants also represent a “wall” that can keep out the decadence that threatens the developed world.
Our country has the strongest institutions that the world has ever seen and admired. But it is well to remember that the institutions are only an extension of a free people that have sacrificed so much to create and maintain them in the last 241 years.