We do well to be jubilant about events in Nicaragua, but we need to be careful before letting that blessed event generate incontinence in our faith in democracy.
To begin with, the event needs to be distinguished from what happened in Eastern Europe in the closing months of 1989. There one had popular uprisings whose success hung on the willingness of a Soviet dictator to let things go in the satellite states. We did not see democracy in action in Eastern Europe. We saw expressed a desire for home rule. Whether that home rule will evolve into constitutional democracy we simply do not know.
What is generally described as an overwhelming victory comes down to 55 people out of 100 voting against the Sandinistas. This leaves us asking the question: How did the Sandinistas, accumulating such a record as they accumulated, destroying their economy as effectively as they did, worshiping such arrantly evil world leaders as they did, crank up 45 votes out of every 100?
Does the survival of basic civil liberties rest on so precarious a footing?
The Nicaraguans have had a narrow escape. We have democracy to thank for marshaling the sanctions of the world to honor the verdict of last Sunday. But we must not lose sight of it, that we would have democracy to thank for marshaling the sanctions of the world to honor the verdict if the Sandinistas had won.