So the social democrat who promised the people more government health care, education and welfare, higher minimum wage and so on, has been defeated. Even taking account of Chavez rigging things it seems likely that (with a claim of some 60% of the vote) he really did win.
Chavez promised the same things as the social democrat of course, but he offers more entertainment value. Jumping about the world and allying himself with anyone (Putin in Russia, the mad Mullahs of Iran and so on) who hates Uncle Sam.
At least Chavez understands that these people do hate America (and Western values in general), unlike so many people in Washington who think they can ‘talk’ to the Iranian regime (what would be there to be talk about – whether the evil infidels of the world should be buried or cremated?). Or President Bush who “looked into the soul” of Mr Putin and discovered that he was a “good man”.
As for the elections: I am often attacked for saying nasty things about the way people sometimes vote, but the case of Venezuela is a tough one for the “the people may make mistakes but they mean well” crowd.
President Chavez was first elected in 1998. He had previously led a military coup effort (which, on its own, should have sunk bid for the office of President of the Republic). He was up against a rather boring social democrat type – but there was nothing evil about that man. Venezuela was at peace (so there was no “it was the war stupid” factor), and no one could seriously believe that Chavez would be less corrupt than his opponent or that he would be any better at what is now called the “management of the economy”.
So why did the majority of people vote the way they did? They voted that way because Chavez played class war “the poor against the rich” – forget that the Venezuela government had spent vast sums of money, it still was not enough.
Why was it not enough? Was it because there were still lots of very poor people? Certainly, but in their hearts these people knew that they would still be just as poor under Chavez (and if they did not know in 1998 they certainly knew last Sunday – when they voted for him again, in spite of all the billions that have gone on his overseas alliances and in corruption). The majority vote they way they do because they see that there are well off people – and they want these people to suffer as much as they do.
A vote for Chavez is not a vote to make oneself better off (and it never was), it is a vote to make other people as poor and as unhappy as one is oneself.
Voting for people like Chavez is not a ‘mistake’, it is something very different.