Democracy and Spain (or, Throwing the Bastards Out)

OK, so in the last couple days I’ve seen a lot of chest-beating about how the recent Spanish election is the worst setback to the effort against terrorism since … well, pretty much anything. This troubles me.

I agree that it’s definitely a bad thing if al-Qaeda gains encouragement from a perceived victory and perceived influence over world affairs. And there’s certainly a case to be made that Zapatero’s policies announced so far aren’t helping.

However, a lot of the rhetoric comes perilously close to saying that in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, it is wrong (or at least an act of moral cowardice) to vote against the incumbent. And that bugs the crap out of me. It smells of “you can have any color you want, as long as it’s black”. I’m not fully versed in Spanish politics, but I can think of several reasons I would be displeased with the PP if I were a Spaniard, none of which have to do with rolling over in hopes al-Qaeda would leave us alone.

Voters are fickle and aggravating. They do weird things, and they do stupid things. But it’s theirs to do. The right result in an election is the one which earned the most support; any other attitude leads to stances usually associated with the bad guys in this particular fight. Save the moral judgements for the policies that come after. Call Zapatero worse than a Frenchman if you want. But we’ve got to respect the right to throw the bastards out.

Originally published on LiveJournal