“Nattering nabobs of negativism” is probably the most enduring of the many alliterative pronouncements of Spiro Agnew, vice president in the Nixon administration until forced to resign because of corruption. This particular phrase, penned by Nixon speechwriter William Safire, derogatively denigrated diligent reporters for placing bad news above good.
Why, Agnew asked rhetorically, did the malicious media not put priority on the positive? He attacked “pusillanimous pussyfooters” allegedly allergic to America.
Inspired by the positive points of the spirit of Spiro “Good News” Agnew, below is a list of definitive developments that definitely deserve dissemination and discussion.
First, democracy is becoming the accepted way of life for the world’s population overall, not just the privileged few. As recently as three decades ago, the people of Latin America lived almost uniformly in various degrees of authoritarian regime.
Today, Castro’s Cuba is literally the only remaining dictatorship in the Americas. Despite pervasive state control, and an internal security apparatus that is rightly respected and feared, the increasingly desperate need for foreign investment is forcing Havana’s geriatric communists to loosen their iron grip.
Even autocratic Hugo Chavez of Venezuela had to face the voters, and near the end of his rule, lost on occasion. Once tiny Costa Rica was a beacon of freedom south of our border. Now that light spreads throughout the Americas.
Likewise, reasonably honest and genuinely contested elections are spreading in Africa, Southeast Asia, the former Soviet Union and — on the local level — in China. In global context, the dramatic “Arab Spring” therefore is the latest manifestation of a worldwide drive toward fair representative government.
The Korean peninsula is especially instructive in this regard. While attention is focused on the apocalyptic rhetoric and brutal actions of the North Korean regime, South Korea continues remarkable positive economic and political progress.