Friday, January 13, 2006

Other means? Possibly not

Notwithstanding calls by some, including me, that he take the government in hand, Yuschenko looks like he is working through institutions to get things done--Yushchenko takes steps to restore authority. That headline should read "legal" steps to be more accurate.

Love him or hate him, you've got to respect that. He isn't taking on the legislature but giving them their due even when they do something stupid like Monday. If the legislature becomes an effective force in Ukrainian politics, something that is "iffy" right now, they are going to have to give Yuschenko an award for some part of that. He is not ignoring the vote, which could serve to undermine the Rada's legitimacy, nor is he taking them head on, which could strip it of any power. Respect for the institution is what we are seeing from him and there ought to be some kind of an award for that.

Of course, in some circles, that will be despised as weakness. Take power and rule is what the strong do and strength is what is needed, they will say (in private at least.) And that kind of thing has the added advantage of showing the people that something is being done. They can take comfort in the fact that the good Uncle (or Aunt) is out there taking care of them.

But there is also a purity to it that will make people feel better too, a kind of purity it shares with truth. With power there is no compromise. Democracy, on the other hand, is all about it. Principles need to be sacrificed, or at least accommodations made, for the good of all. Truth of course can accommodate nothing beside itself. Power can't either.

Democracy is a messy thing and the results do not completely satisfy all the time and maybe never. But, as Churchill said, democracy is the worst system out there, except for all the rest.

And Yuschenko is out there trying to prop up the institutions of democracy to make them look, at least, respectable. That is something that should be respected in itself.

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