Some rhetorical questions nobody seems to ask…

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  • Can you summarize the political doctrines, policy positions and strategic visions of AD, Un Nuevo Tiempo, Proyecto Venezuela, Un Solo Pueblo Copei, Primero Justicia, Alianza Bravo Pueblo, Causa R and MAS and how they differ?
  • Can you explain, in substantive terms, how a future government headed by AD would be different from a future government headed by Un Nuevo Tiempo, Proyecto Venezuela, Un Solo Pueblo, Copei, Primero Justicia, Alianza Bravo Pueblo, Causa R or MAS?
  • Is the opposition to the Chavez experiment in any way strengthened by the existence, as separate parties, of AD, Un Nuevo Tiempo, Proyecto Venezuela, Un Solo Pueblo, Copei, Primero Justicia, Alianza Bravo Pueblo, Causa R and MAS?
  • Besides the need to multiply “leadership posts,” can you provide any rationale for the existence, as separate parties, of AD, Un Nuevo Tiempo, Proyecto Venezuela, Un Solo Pueblo, Copei, Primero Justicia, Alianza Bravo Pueblo, Causa R and MAS?
  • Can you name a single instance, in Venezuelan history, of two distinct parties merging?
  • What do you think it says about the public spiritedness of Henry Ramos, Manuel Rosales, Henrique Salas Romer, William Ojeda, Cesar Perez Vivas, Julio Borges, Antonio Ledezma, Andres Velasquez and Leopoldo Puchi (plus assorted hangers on) that AD, Un Nuevo Tiempo, Proyecto Venezuela, Un Solo Pueblo, Copei, Primero Justicia, Alianza Bravo Pueblo, Causa R and MAS continue to exist as separate parties?
  • What do you think it says about the conception of the nature of politics of Henry Ramos, Manuel Rosales, Henrique Salas Romer, William Ojeda, Cesar Perez Vivas, Julio Borges, Antonio Ledezma, Andres Velasquez and Leopoldo Puchi (plus assorted hangers on) that AD, Un Nuevo Tiempo, Proyecto Venezuela, Un Solo Pueblo, Copei, Primero Justicia, Alianza Bravo Pueblo, Causa R and MAS continue to exist as separate parties?
  • What do you think it says about the Opposition’s political culture that AD, Un Nuevo Tiempo, Proyecto Venezuela, Un Solo Pueblo, Copei, Primero Justicia, Alianza Bravo Pueblo, Causa R and MAS continue to exist as separate parties?
  • Why, in your opinion, is it that these questions are not part of the political debate in Venezuela?

    What I’m getting at is that Opposition politicos seem to have a warped understanding of what a political party is.

    A political party is supposed to be an institutional mechanism that alligns and coordinates the political activities of broad sectors of society sharing a basic vision even if, unsurprisingly, its members disagree on various points.

    In order to aggregate their strengths, party members come to understand that they have to accept a measure of discipline, a broad commitment to cooperate, to sing from a single hymn sheet even if they might each quibble with some of the notes. This doesn’t mean that they contract-out their judgment to party leaders, or that they stop discussing their disagreements. It means that they agree to process their disagreements through an institutional mechanism that prevents their petty disputes from impairing their collective ability to act effectively in the broader political sphere.

    For these reasons, in most Western countries politicians understand that for a political party to be at all effective, it needs to be broad. Ken Livingstone can share a political party with Tony Blair, Dennis Kucinich with Joe Lieberman, and Felipe Gonzalez with Rodriguez Zapatero.

    Does that mean they stop disagreeing? No. It means that they understand that, on balance, their agreements outweigh their disagreements and that the benefits, in terms of political effectiveness, they get from processing their disagreements inside a single organization outweigh the costs of fragmentation.

    This line of reasoning just doesn’t seem to occur to the Venezuelan Opposition, where parties proliferate not because their leaders disagree on anything substantial, but simply because each would rather be a bigger fish in a smaller pond than a smaller fish in a bigger pond.

    The costs of this attitude, in terms of disorganization, disaggregation, mixed messages, wasteful bickering, intra-coalition competition and overall incoherence barely figure in their calculation. So parties proliferate ad infinitum, with a cacique-to-indio ratio that increases exponentially until none of the parties is able to be at all effective…or even to exist, in any meaningful sense, beyond the confines of a TV studio.

    It’s hardly surprising that a political opposition “organized” in this way can’t lead the anti-Chavez movement, and ends up, instead, reacting to waves of opinion it can’t control.

    My point in raising these questions – especially the last one – is that Chavez is a big, big problem – so big, in fact, that the obsessive concern with attacking his government stiffles debate on a series of lesser, but still very important problems – like the little matter of the self-defeating fragmentation of opposition parties. It’s always more comfortable for an Antonio Ledezma or a Cesar Perez Vivas to rant against Chavez than to question the crazy structure of the opposition.

    So they don’t. And we don’t. And so we’re ineffective…in great part, because we can’t be bothered to sort out a political organization within the anti-Chavez camp that might make us effective.

  • 1 COMMENT

    1. Francisco, I am kind of annoyed by the exclusion of a woman (Maria Corina Machado and Vente) and of Leopoldo Lopez and Voluntad Popular. And to go further in spite of my complete dislike of Falcon, yes Henry, or the party Bandera Roja. During presidential primaries I went to Catedra Pio Tamayo in UCV to get to know the platforms and vision for the Country, our Venezuela. For the brief time that Maria Corina happened to have (before getting attacked with tear gas and bullets) she presented a very coherent plan with the 2 Venezuelas we have. On the one hand we have a Venezuela that lacks tools and proper training to lift themselves out of poverty and to understand the value (sustainable in itself) to be independent of welfare. The other Venezuela is the well prepared for entrepreneurship the one that need the free market freedoms to generate vast capital with all the resources and possibilities to spin economies from extraction industries. Cacao is one of them, best Cacao in the World only for export. She understood, at least for me with a heavy training in planning for development, in setting achievable and accountable goals for the necessary steps to wean the poor out of the STATE BREAST.

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