Dial C for conscience

Katy says: Last night I went to see a grown-up movie for the first time in months, and it was a great one. Michael Clayton is a superior Hollywood story about greedy, ruthless corporate lawyers and the chaos that ensues when a few of them actually develop a conscience.

The movie got me thinking about conscience, something we seldom see in the public sphere.

I’ve been emailing back and forth with loyal reader Kepler about the fact that, more than two months after the December 2nd Referendum, the CNE has not yet released updated results. All we have so far are the results from the 1st Bulletin and a 2nd Bulletin that has no results and, literally, does not add up.

To be quite honest, this has not been on my radar screen, and I wasn’t much interested in revisiting this topic. We won the referendum, the government accepted it, and that’s what’s important. End of story … or is it?

Kepler and all his fellow skeptics have a point – something about this smells fishy. The eerie silence that has followed the first bulletin has been met with a passive shrug of the shoulders by most of the opposition – parties and students alike. It seems like Súmate, ESDATA and a few other opposition groups and individuals are the only ones asking the obvious questions, questions like “how many votes did the opposition get?” or “how high was abstention?”.

I asked some of my contacts in opposition parties about this to get their side of the story. The response I got disturbed me.

Their answer was that some people in the opposition believe final results will never be revealed. They think that the actual margin of victory was smaller than what the CNE is currently reporting, and therefore they are not too worried about the CNE finishing the count. They suggest we all turn the page and let sleeping dogs lie.

It goes without saying that this was not the answer I was looking for. In my response, I listed the many reasons why this was a bone-headed idea. I talked about how important it was that people now believed in the vote, and that this could be compromised by the CNE’s reluctance to do their job and by the political parties’ and the students’ indifference.

I told the people I spoke to that they had the chance to position themselves with this issue. By not keeping quiet and puting this issue on the table again, they could claim a stake in a different position from the rest of the crowded opposition field. I mentioned how this could be a way of getting back some of the radical skeptics without alienating the median voters they are clearly gearing for. I highlighted the importance of voters overseas, and how they need to know that their vote will always count.

My long email was a laundry list of reasons why I thought pressing on would be convenient. Yet after coming down from my soapbox, I realized what I forgot to mention: that pressing on with this issue is important because it is the right thing to do.

Too many times we find ourselves thinking in terms of costs and benefits, of what we gain and what we lose. Yet it is much easier to live by the Golden Rule.

With political power comes responsability. Millions of Venezuelans decided to trust opposition groups and vote because they believed that they would defend their vote all the way. And while they did a decent job and we won the referendum – something that should not be forgotten – capitulating now, before all the votes have been counted, is a betrayal of that trust. You can argue it is a minor one, but it’s a betrayal nonetheless, and an unnecessary one at that.

Perhaps they are thinking that, if they press the CNE further with this issue, they would highlight their incompetence, and the electoral conditions we now have – a clear improvement over what we had in previous elections – could be lost. Perhaps they think pressing the CNE could endanger the regional elections and that communication channels could be cut off. In short, perhaps they don’t want to piss off Tibisay Lucena.

There comes a time when all these issues have to be put aside. We must learn to differentiate the personal from the work in public life, and make the case that the Lucena et al. have to finish what they started, without regards for the consequences and without this being offensive to anyone.

Not doing so hurts our credibility with the CNE as well. Ultimately, if the CNE sees that we are willing to compromise on our stances, it will try and get us to compromise on bigger, more important things.

I gave my connections a mouthful with all of this, and at least they read it and said they would consider my opinion. I honestly hope they do, not because they will lose my trust if they don’t, but because this is a great opportunity to show they actually listen to their conscience. Let’s hope they don’t pass it up.