Letter to the Editor: We Can Learn Lessons from Turmoil in Bolivia

It seems very distant, but current turmoil in Bolivia sheds light on an important way in which we maintain democracy in the United States. 

Evo Morales is no longer the president of Bolivia. Whether he was the victim of a coup or actually voted out of office, I surely don’t know; opinion in that country is extremely polarized as to which.

Morales was first elected in 2005 and also for a second term, but he managed to remove the requirement in the Bolivian Constitution that limited a president to two terms. The 2019 election in Bolivia resulted in serious distrust of the results. Now Morales has fled; there is chaos and violence in the country; and apparently there is no middle ground on which to rebuild that democracy.

“Typical Third World problem” is an easy way to disregard it. To me, though, it’s a chilling example of the danger to democracy when there are no effective checks and balances to prevent excessive power accruing to one individual or one branch of government.

Currently in the U.S., we have a president who unarguably often ignores constitutional and institutional norms. Arguably, he has used his position for personal benefit. Our country’s founders were very concerned about the slippery slope toward the improper use of power, and impeachment is the constitutional tool they provided to examine possible abuse or misuse. 

We don’t know yet how this president’s unprecedented actions will affect our democracy. But it’s very clear that impeachment is the check and balance we risk losing if we start to believe the loudly broadcast chorus of “illegitimacy,” along with the wholesale refusal to cooperate with legal requirements.

Much more is at stake here than a particular presidency.

Karen Wilson

Juddville, Wisconsin