Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Political Disappointment in the Ukraine and the Limits of Democracy

I would never make the ridiculous suggestion that American politics are comparable to Ukrainian politics, but the trials and travails of Viktor Yushchenko following his triumph in the so-called "Orange Revolution" of 2004 (when, you may recall, he survived even poisoning) may offer a window into the souls of Bush’s leftist critics in America.

Anne Applebaum offers an interesting analysis of the source of Mr. Yushchenko’s post-triumphal woes.

The Ukrainian people--accustomed as they are to an omnipotent government and strong-arming government agencies--simply expect too much from their democratically elected leader. To be sure, there is more to Mr. Yushchenko’s relative weakness than the nature of democracy. He is, after all, governing the Ukraine. Enough said.

But Yushchenko’s critics remind me of Bush’s leftist critics in their almost quaint belief in the power and ability of government to "change things" or "get things done." Leftists persist in this mafioso mentality, even as they push to continue the creation of the massive bureaucracy that both frustrates and creates the demand for such slavish behavior. But Heaven forfend that a strong executive use his powers in the service of something truly executive--like conducting war! Shaking down some money out of Congress for my pet project on the other hand? You betcha! Read Applebaum’s piece and see if you don’t find yourself substituting Bush’s name for Yushchenko’s on occasion. The real problem with America’s leftists is not that they are too liberal. True liberalism values liberty and the courage it takes to defend it. These folks are ubsequious kisser-ups to tyranny in all its forms.

Discussions - 4 Comments

Sorry Julie, but I have to point a small technicality out here. I travel to Ukraine 2 to 3 times per year and the folks in western Ukraine take exception to Ukraine being referred to as "the Ukraine". "The Ukraine" is viewed as part of the Russian assertion of ownership/control of Ukraine.

Yushchenko’s critics do remind me of the the sixth grade Michael Moore logic that is being served up by many on the extremities of the American political scene. The biggest exception between the two countries, is that the all-powerful nanny government that many dream about here has failed miserably over there and most of the folks over their understand that, over here well...thats another story.

The biggest problem in Ukraine is that people were conditioned, under the Soviets, not to think, that was the government’s job and there were dire consequences if one made the incorrect decision. The brightest spot in Ukraine is that people under 30 want very much to make their own decisions and they for the most part were the movers and shakers behind the Orange Revolution. Ukraine is going to change.

Yushchenko is a haus. I heard that level of poison would have killed most people.

Ken--I’ll take your point to heart and refrain from using the "the" in the future. My excuse is that I have been conditioned to say "the" by my daughter’s kindergarten teacher last year who escaped Ukraine when she was a little girl, fleeing the Nazis. She hated the Communists too, but I guess it was an old habit to say "the." I hope you’re right about Ukraine changing. It (and the rest of Eastern Europe) may be the only chance the rest of Europe has if Mark Steyn is right about the changes coming there. But they have alot of history to overcome.

Julie, if you could see the fire in the eyes of the young people who lived in the streets during the Orange Revolution. I had the opportunity last fall to speak at some schools in Western Ukraine and even the older people who were too afraid to go into the streets were excited and wanted to know what Americans thought about the Orange Revolution. They kept insisting that it was their version of the Declaration of Independence.

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