Chávez is said to have got fifty-four percent of the vote.
Assuming that he did, why and
does it augur anything for our own election?
Here are some thoughts from my favorite Venezuelan blogger, Daniel Duquenal (pseudonym) about yesterday’s election. A student of Venezuela, he lives and votes there. He also dislikes el Presidente Chávez, with good reason.
The people who reelected Chavez today know exactly what they voted for. They know about crime and violence. They know about inflation and scarcity. They know about vulgarity as a way of life. They know about political prisoners while the most corrupt cast of our history roams the streets free. They know about power outages that will never be solved, about public services getting worse everyday, starting with the vaunted governmental misiones. So, why did they vote for Chavez? For a free washer? For the promise of a cheap and low quality housing for which they will not have good utilities and no job to keep it up?
People who voted for Chavez voted for him because of Capriles (it would have been the same with Leopoldo Lopez and even Pablo Perez for that matter). They voted against Capriles because they were reminded that education matters, that to get ahead in life you needed to improve yourself, respect some rules, respect thy neighbor. And they cannot do so or are unwilling to do so, same difference in my book. Chavez in 14 years has transformed into virtue what were the vices of Venezuelan society and thus, as I wrote more than once, Chavez was the true conservative, reactionary, candidate that you vote for because you are afraid of change. People vote for Chavez because even if they have no running water or electricity, they feel good about themselves because the president of the country is as flawed as they are, and in the mean version of flawed. He is the one that will insure that you may remain a sinvergüenza [shameless, brazen scoundrel]. (Emphasis and translation added.)
Chavez did not create them, they existed already when he became president. He just reinforced their beliefs in a worthy self loathing transformed into a weird arrogance: el resentimiento social. That is why invasiones are OK as long as they do not happen with your property. That is why you put up with the harsh life conditions we suffer now because whenever you feel like abusing society you need not feel guilty about it. True, not all chavistas are like that and some still, for some strange reason, believe that their salvation will only come from the state. But every day more and more are becoming resentidos.
Daniel’s comments relate only to the Venezuelan election, with no observations on the upcoming elections in the United States. I have taken the liberty of looking at the latter in light of his comments because I consider them pertinent.
Rejection of self reliance
Unwillingness to strive for a decent education, to improve one’s self, to respect others or even one’s self (which I highlighted in the quotation above), coupled with faux helpfulness of others in tending to one’s needs, are among the subjects about which Black conservatives — Thomas Sowell, Lloyd Marcus and many others — have long written. Such willingness and efforts have kept many of their fellow Blacks on the Dependency Plantation in generational perpetuity. Mr. Marcus wrote,
Ironically, proving America is completely the opposite of the evil racist country they relentlessly accuse her of being, progressives used America’s goodness, guilt and sense of fair play against her. In their quest to destroy America as we know it, progressives borrowed a brilliant scheme from Greek mythology. They offered America a modern day Trojan Horse, a beautifully crafted golden shiny new black man as a presidential candidate. Democrat Joe Biden lorded Obama as the first clean and articulate African American candidate. Democrat Harry Reid said Obama only uses a black dialect when he wants.
White America relished the opportunity to vote for a black man naively believing they would never suffer the pain of being called racist again. Black Americans viewed casting their vote for Obama as the ultimate Affirmative Action for America’s sins of the past.
Then there were the entitlement loser voters who said, “I’m votin’ for the black dude who promises to take from those rich SOBs and give to me.”
Although the big word on the left is “compassion,” the big agenda on the left is dependency. The more people who are dependent on government handouts, the more votes the left can depend on for an ever-expanding welfare state.
Optimistic Republicans who say that widespread unemployment and record numbers of people on food stamps hurt President Obama’s reelection chances are overlooking the fact that people who are dependent on government are more likely to vote for politicians who are giving them handouts. (Emphasis added.)
President Franklin D. Roosevelt understood that, back during the Great Depression of the 1930s. He was reelected in a landslide after his first term, during which unemployment was in double digits every single month, and in some months was over 20 percent.
The time is long overdue for optimistic Republicans to understand what FDR understood long ago, and what Barack Obama clearly understands today. Dependency pays off in votes — unless somebody alerts the taxpayers who get stuck with the bill.
Because of such writings and their rejection of the dependency and related affirmative action ideologies writ large that may enhance President Obama’s electoral success this year, they are labeled “racists.”
Dependency breeds resentment.
Living on the Dependency Plantation in conditions sufficiently comfortable to keep many people from leaving seems less likely to promote thankfulness than resentment, hostility and demands for more. Flash mobs, stealing such “necessities” as $200 jeans?
The “youth” enjoying these frivolities at the expense of others do not need the stuff they liberate; they simply want it and feel entitled to it. Considering themselves entitled to free ObamaPhones and other goodies, they are obviously entitled to such other portable luxuries as they may fancy.
“Resentidos” — resentments: In order to garner the votes of the resentful, it is necessary to “create or save” scapegoats for them to resent. As I wrote here, much has been done to capitalize on resentments that would likely have diminished long ago had they not been nurtured.
Could a candidate for President of all people in the United States grandly proclaim a reelection campaign directed specifically at Whites — as did President Obama this year directed specifically at Blacks? Not in this century. Are Blacks, whom Attorney General Holder claimed as “his people,” among the resentful to be pandered to in that fashion? I wrote here that
Race baiting has been defined as insinuating
that racism or bigotry is a dominant factor with regards to an event that either does not involve race or in which diverse cultures are involved are simply a minor element.
Blacks such as the Reverend Messrs Sharpton and Jackson, who promptly sought and found the
limespot light when “White Hispanic” George Zimmerman killed sweet little Black child Trayvon Martin — President Obama said that if he had a son would look like Trayvon — are not “racist.” Perhaps the FBI, which recently found no racial motivation in Mr. Zimmerman’s conduct, is “racist.” Black conservatives in growing numbers, such as Congressman West, Herman Cain, Thomas Sowell and Lloyd Marcus — and those of whatever race who support them — are “racist.” Will such “racist” conservatives have any discernible impact this year? Ever?
There, I intended to suggest that the definition of “racism” has been twisted to the point that racism is not considered racist but that race-neutral actions are.
El Presidente Chávez apparently got much of his support yesterday from the poor, from people dependent on his government for a bare subsistence, for employment (how many Government employees are likely to vote for President Obama because if he loses his job they may lose their jobs too) or for wealth substantially greater than from mere employment. He got such support even though merely existing in Venezuela has become far more difficult for most than a decade ago.
On a per capita basis, fewer Venezuelans may be able to get what they deem necessities than are people in the United States; but the divergence is not as great as one might at first imagine. One’s own functioning automobile, air conditioning, meat, vegetables, coffee and many other “necessities” in the United States are increasingly seen as luxuries in Venezuela. Often unavailable or rationed, they are also increasingly expensive with double digit inflation and worse in prospect.
A principal difference between these slums in Caracas as they existed several years ago and as they now exist is that the crime rate has worsened.
Go to Sizzler and Ruth’s Chris as I did recently. You can easily spend $20 at the former, and $100 at the latter per person. And, yes I know, food at the latter tastes far better, but not $80 per plate better, The thick steak at Chris is not necessarily safer (and may be more unhealthy) than the thin chuck cut at Sizzler. I don’t think the atmosphere at Chris is $80 a plate better than at a boisterous Sizzler. We are not in Dickensian London when the pot-bellied rich ate fat geese and the poor were left picking their bones.
I went into Save Mart this weekend and purchased $70 worth of groceries. In my state and federal tax bracket, that meant I had to earn about $140 for the tab. The person next to me bought $200 with an EBD card. I don’t think she had much of an income (I’ll spare you the details). Was one really in the food-sense rich, the other really poor? Today’s destitute, as in my youth, are not buying huge thirty-pound bags of rice, beans, and flour.
. . . .
The dangers of the underclass here in the poorest quadrant of the poorest county in poor California are obesity rather than malnutrition. The local state dialysis clinic is tragically full of far more heavy than lean poor. (Yes, I grant that arugula costs more than Hostess CupCakes). More suffer from an expensive ingestion of an unlawful drug than the unavailability of a cheap ingestible prescription drug. The parking lots are full of Tahoes and Yukons; the public trolley for the indigent goes by empty.
Keep all that in mind as we enter the most divisive, class-warfare campaign in recent memory. We are living in the upside-down world Orwell wrote about. A president who likes upscale golf a lot, and Martha’s Vineyard even more, who has hired three “fat cat” bankers as his chiefs of staff (how odd that Emanuel and Lew probably both made a lot out of the Freddie/Fannie bubble), and who is the largest recipient of Wall Street cash in history now argues that half of America suffers from the hands of “them.”
Being unequal is not poor. And not having what the “rich” have hardly means having it bad. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.
Surreal or not, poverty gives governments powerful hooks of dependency which, once grasped, can be removed only with more pain and difficulty than many are willing to endure. To vote to remove hooks already grasped and embedded may be seen as an act against self-interest and against the interests of one’s children. Those who bother to ponder the question and arrive at that answer may be correct — if long term effects are ignored. Unemployed and dependent but living in Mr. Hanson’s “surreal poverty?” Even if the long-term benefits of removing the dependency hook are recognized, why should the likely continuation of the status quo be rejected in favor of the less certain long term benefits that rejection might provide?
Please assume the following: The United States have abundant resources which Venezuela lacks. The people of the United States generally know how to use those resources efficiently and productively. In the United States, corruption is less significant than the pervasive and endemic corruption at all levels in Venezuela. Most of our population still hold to the work ethic and prefer to live off their own labor than that of others.
Even with those assumptions, those stuck on the Dependency Plantation due to necessity or preference seem to be increasing in number. With a close election — as appears likely next month — concern that Dependency Plantation residents may cast the deciding votes for President Obama does not unduly strain the imagination. It is worth remembering that in the weeks immediately before the Venezuelan election, the race was generally considered very tight and tightening, with el Presidente Chávez’ reelection far from certain.
Every vote is crucial. Although I have become much more favorably impressed, I do not consider Governor Romney a perfect or even exceptional candidate. But he is the only candidate we have with a chance of interrupting the cycle of perpetual dependency in which our nation has been snared.