The country is tired. The growing global financial crisis has been hitting hard, banks are suffering, unemployment rate is high, the outlook is gloom. The government seems be almost incapable to change things for the better. Along comes a charismatic young leader. He’s a relative outsider, his is a very talented orator, he has written an autobiography which portrays him as a true leader with a strong set of beliefs, he can talk in front of thousands of people and bring hope back to their hearts. He promises change, he promises social justice, he promises hope. Election day is just around the corner…
The year is 1932, the country is Germany and the name of the charismatic leader is Adolph Hitler.
The point of this analogy is not to equate Sen. Obama to Hitler. The point is that in the times of prolonged difficulties, change is absolutely the best platform to run on. Blame everything on the existing government, promise hope and change, add a bit of social justice to appeal to a broad electorate–and people will give your the office, without bothering to look into your past and taking no time to think about consequences. Whether in Germany circa 1932, Italy circa 1921 or modern Venezuela circa 1998, this platform has worked flawlessly. People voted for change–and gave power to Hitler, Mussolini and Chavez. When they realized that they had been mislead by empty promises it was too late.
The right to vote comes with responsibility. Responsibility to see through slogans. Responsibility to look into the candidates’ past. Responsibility to think. Nations that take this responsibility lightly pay the ultimate price: they lose their right to vote.