The authoritarianism in Russia and the populist demagoguery in Venezuela are both products of the very elections Kagan boosts. The fact is that liberalism has a small constituency in both countries (outside of a very few western European, Anglophone and North American countries, this has often been the case), and when put before the electorates of Russia and Venezuela liberalism fares very poorly. Some of this has to do with the fact that relatively liberal politics was associated with the wealthy elite and tycoons, and the effects of policies carried out in the name of liberalism were generally poor or even disastrous for the people who now back authoritarian populist leaders. There will be objections that Russian elections in particular are not fully “free and fair,” but against this I would note that even with fully free and fair elections the overwhelming majority would still want nothing to do with the Russian liberals. This is hardly surprising: in mass democracy, the politics of liberty tends to lose and lose badly, while one form of demagoguery or another (be it nationalist or revolutionary socialist) usually prevails.
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