The country you want


If I had to summarize a campaign motif for a presidential candidate – and you know I’m itching to – I would start with this graph from the latest poll by Venezuela’s best polling firm, Consultores 21: no fewer of 61% of respondents think the country Hugo Chávez wants is not the country they want. 35% think the opposite.

There’s a lot packed into those two diverging lines. It hits the gut. It speaks about aspirations. It puts a wedge between the voter and Chávez. It empowers people to think about what they want for their country. It frames the opposition’s message in patriotic terms. And most of all, it’s calamitous for Chávez.

Think about it. “The country you want is not the country he’s giving you.” Simple, emotional, and devastating. You could do a lot worse.

(H/t: La patilla)

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  1. Still, there’s 35% of the population who still believes that Chavez should stay the course.

    Even after 12 years of corruption, inflation, misery and death. 35%. Go figure.

      • Well, excuse ME! My point is valid.

        Some people see Chavez’s rule not as a government, but as some kind of cult. And that is wrong, sir. Just wrong.

        • The 35% figure is consistent with the polls and blog analysts I have read over the years which have estimated the percentage of hard-core Chavistas to be about a third of the population. Sad, but true.

          Yellow dog Chavistas they are, to borrow a phrase.

        • Geha, of course your point is valid, I’m just pointing out that we should focus on the good news from the graph, not the bad news.

          • Well, I feel happy that more people are coming to their senses about what is happening. However, 35% is still a very worrying number.

            I hope that brings this discussion to an end. Sorry for any problems. Moving on.

    • “Even after 12 years of corruption, inflation, misery and death. 35%. Go figure.”

      Even after 2,000 years of natural disasters, famine, horrible deceases, well over 80% of the population still believes there’s a benevolent, omnipotent god who created the universe just for them, who loves them above everything, and who does everything he does just for their benefit.

      I’m not trying to be an atheist troll, I’m just making the point that, for the vast majority of humans, the belief in X is directly proportional to the psychological need to believe in X, not to the evidence for X. So if people still believe in Chavez is mostly because they need to believe in him (i.e., they have absolutely nothing else they can believe in), not because they have logical reasons to do so.

      Either that or because they are corrupt crooks/drug traffickers who are greatly benefiting from the government’s incompetence and corruption.

    • Juan,

      Geha´s point is a valid one, not mere pessamism. If those 35% can believe in Chavez despite all evidence of the damage he has done, it means that they believe so deeply that no amount of reason will ever change them. How is this society ever going to heal itself and make itself one people again?

      • How is this society ever going to heal itself and make itself one people again?

        By the usual time-proven method for persons and countries:

        Hard, uncushioned impact against Reality and some hurting.

        • Loro,

          That is exaclty what I have saying, but when I couch it in real terms of what such a collision might look like, few people want to hear it, and instead reject it as fear mongering. Hell, I was even called a fascist for it!

          • There’s reason, there’s reality, there’s heeding it and changing course… There’s also the cliff wall that will stop you just the same, painfully and even harmfully. Venezuelan society does seem a candidate for the old wall. The Petrostate and it’s associated expectations and behaviors have to end and be replaced by a different sense of attitudes, particularly with much smaller sense of entitlement and a greater sense of individual responsibility. Venezuelans either realize it, or have some interesting times ahead.

            I can speak for myself: I feel no remorse in stating what Venezuelans might suffer for their behavior.

            I did not bring it about, nor did I support those that brought it about. I am against every one of the behaviors and attitudes that brought it about. I would have liked to see Venezuelans embrace real change and drop the old attitudes when there was still time. I did not see that. I will skip country to not be a witness to it.

            Either to Hugo finishing the country off and finishing himself, or to an opposition government promising too much, and falling victim to Venezuelan outlandish expectations, for Hugo to come back and finishing the country off.

          • Roy:
            It’s one thing to say:
            “things are gonna get ugly in Venezuela, there will be blood”

            And another :
            “The people I do not like in Venezuela will likely disappear and I cannot blame their would-be-killers”.

            Two very, very different things.

          • You don’t theorize, you fantasize. As made clear by the fact that you haven’t provided and couldn’t provide any evidence indicating that such a thing might happen.

            For instance, with no fascist dictatorship around, who would possibly make the call to start executing “thugs”? (as opposed to agitators, like in 4F)

      • Well, 44% of Chileans in 1988 wanted Pinochet to continue being a dictator, and Chile managed to heal itself just fine.

        Don’t hold it against the 35% – they are being force-fed revolutionary mierda every day. It’s not their fault.

    • Remember that by definition half the population of any given country is dummer than the median. That’s a lot of dumb people.

      In 2005, 20% of adults in the U.S believed the Sun revolved around the Earth. That’s 200+ years after science moved away from the idea…

    • Please explain how this is different from any *other* country.
      George W. Bush lead an illegal invasion of another country deplored by 80% of the human race as a whole, ran the US’s economy into the ground and practically dropped the ball everytime he could.
      Still, he always hovered around 30%!
      Nicolas Sarkozy, Berlusconi, you name it: Almost every democratically elected leader holds onto a third of the electorate, no matter how bad he does.
      So we either affirm Bush’s hard-core electorate is a “cult” of completely irrational people, or we assume it’s, as philosohper Jay-Z would say, “politics, as usual”.

  2. Here’s one of the interesting things about this graph: apparently, a lot of people think the country they want is not the country Chavez wants… but are still willing to vote for him.

    That creates an opening that the opposition needs to exploit. Obviously, many people don’t like what Chavez is doing, but they go out and vote for him anyway. Why? Personal affinity. Lack of a better option. Thinking that the country the opposition wants is even further removed from what they want.

    That’s the challenge for the opposition: use this reality as a starting point to a) drive a wedge between Chavez and the voters who already disagree with him; and b) bring them into our fold by basically saying “we both want the same things.”

    I don’t think the quasi-religious thing is at all relevant. That 35% or so is beyond redemption, so we don’t need to worry about them. The 61% is more than enough to win an election convincingly. But among that 61% is a group of swing voters, that 10-20% of the voters that are undecided but swing Chavez’s way – they are the target.

    It’s there for the taking.

    • “apparently, a lot of people think the country they want is not the country Chavez wants… but are still willing to vote for him”

      Or not vote against him, anyways. Slide 17 speaks very loudly to the power of abstentionism. Without even knowing voter turnout, I can say that least one-half of that blue line stayed home in 2006.

  3. Re: geha714’s point – The thing is: I’m sure 35% of these people is very willing to go to the voting booths to vote for Chavez. Are we sure that 65% of the other side is willing to say no?

  4. No self respecting government (legit or otherwise) is going to allow a polling company broadcast they have less than 30% approval rate! and no pollster worth his skin is going to survive saying: oh! by the way, 70 percent of the population thinks you suck! that’s the reality.
    You have to read “between the lines” what apparent little gains or loses are shown are actually a far bigger spread but just not published that way…

    • DC “No self respecting government (legit or otherwise) is going to allow a polling company broadcast they have less than 30% approval rate!”
      Last time I check this falls under freedom of speech so any legit goverment will have to deal with it. What Chavismo does is, they create their own polls that show a different reality, but so far in Venezuela polls from this company have been pretty accurate.

  5. I agree with DC. It is probably a much bigger spread. A lot depends on how the question was asked. Venezuelans are fearful of being seen as not supporting the revolution. It is a matter of starvation, homelessness, and unemployment plus possible jail time or personal danger.

    • We should not start speculating again about the “hidden vote” behind the polls. We know were did that take us in the referendum…

  6. I the developed world, an incumbent needs about 55% to feel safe, and one polling below 50% cannot be saved except through extraordinary misadventure, because undecided voters break for the new candidate at about 65%-35%.

    So, what is required for Venezuela to turn away from its present quasi-totalitarian path is a 1) single 2) centrist 3) Presidential-seeming candidate. He or she cannot lose.

    Run two candidates, or one not centrist, or one otherwise not Presidential, and Venezuela will re-elect Chavez.

    Nominating someone without a record of defeats would enhance that Presidential image, so that he or she cnnot be paited a loser.

    • Who are the centrists? In my view, almost anyone looks moderate in front of Mr. Chávez. I guess you mean the extreme right-wing? Is anyone form that camp electable/running? Or perhaps centrism stems from his stance on the 1958-1998 political system? Then the issue is framed as “new guard v. old guard”, as CC has played it (and while I disagree with that, it might be taken as the most important political “cleavage” of them all?).

      Who is Presidential-seeming? Again, should we compare anyone to Chavez? Does Chavez look like a President? Do we strive for someone who looks/feel like Presient Chavez (in terms of race, eloquence, measures, and the like) or his complete opposite (in said terms)?

      This formula is intriguing, but it might be all things for all people…

  7. BTW, Slate offers today an article on this matter, regarding Mr. Obama.

    Using the curt phrase they pin on one of Hillary Clinton’s former campaign advisors, the idea was to fram Obama throught the question: “Is he one of us?”

    Could the opposition campaign do that? Could we frame him as the “Havanian Candidate”?

  8. Incidentally, the item has not changed much since Sept. 2010, so… Did this frame of mind change the voters’ choices? Or was it underplayed by the opposition?

    • Or, alternativley, is there a question in C21’s poll that ponders whether the Unidad in in touch with most Venezuelan’s Venezuela?

  9. This phrase from JC comment above made me stop “Thinking that the country the opposition wants is even further removed from what they want.” and gtaveledo question, are we running polls to see how the opposition fares in the same question?
    Seen this I believe that if we get better at showing to people on that blue line that the country a government from the opposition will bring is the country they want, we can win. For that we need a very good campaign.

  10. As I said in the earlier thread you have to have someone that appeals to the uneducated, unsophisticated pueblo. A John Kennedy type who is telegenic, photogenic & can appeal to the masses.

    You will not reach the necessary voters with only ideas spewed by some retread Adeco or Copieano, no matter how good those ideas are.

    We really need a white knight.

    • “As I said in the earlier thread you have to have someone that appeals to the uneducated, unsophisticated pueblo. A John Kennedy type who is telegenic, photogenic & can appeal to the masses.”

      Right you are! And I would add, someone who offers more freebees than Chavez.

    • Very amusing article, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around “1,3000 striking workers.”

      Can you imagine Chavez put in Obama’s place? He couldn’t handle it at all. Dealing with the press would be pretty bad, but imagine him with real checks and balances. He’d probably have an aneurysm within 24 hours.

      But the political place where I would most like to see Hugo Chavez: a debate in the House of Commons. What a field day for the backbenchers!

  11. I really think most of you are just flying off the handle here. The fact that up to 61% of the population does not agree with Chavez regarding the country they want for the future is great news. At least now a hefty majority agrees on what they dislike, and that is one major step forward. Now let´s sell a credible platform, that seems inclusive to all concerned backed up by a candidate not easily discredited and we may be able to handily defeat Chavez.

    Of course it´s not easy, we´ve got major hurdles to overcome, but for once, and this is the part we have to focus on, we are on the majority on this crucial all-encompassing topic. We need to grab on to this kernel of good news and build on it, keeping in mind that it´s been ages since numbers looked so good.

    • I agree.

      We need to be coherent. If we’re going to swear by tolerance, pluralism, and a public sphere where there is space for every point of view, we can’t then recoil in horror when we find out a sizable portion of the population really does deeply interpret reality very differently from how we do.

      You can’t have it both ways!

  12. The probem with this graph is the question it answers: “Do you like what you have?”
    Quico’s oppo campaign slogan might be “Anyone but Chavez!”

    But it focuses too many minds on two people:

    1. Chavez, and

    2. Anyone…..what, ANYONE?”

    Don’t offer them a candidate whose only virtue is whoever he is not.

    Pinochet was not Chavez. Castro either. Or Carmona.

    If you want to offer the public “Anyone but Bush”,
    don’t offer them Al Gore or John Kerry.

    The graph is handy but limited. It leaves the tough question open:
    “Whom you want to answer the phone at Miraflores?”

    Warmest Regards,


  13. now it is Bernake talking “class war” of the wealthiest against “da piple”,

    so it’s becoming harder and harder to make sense out of anything. Be patient with each other. I am trying to become a humble soul, and am getting much help from my Venezuelan friend who kept my ears ringing last nite in Santa Monica with his “Loco Chávez” tirade, plus my own Venezuelan sister with her weekly mentada de madre (mentioning of one’s mother) each time I say “but he, I mean El Loco, can’t be all that bad, nobody, no matter how evil of stupid, can do ALL things wrong ALL the time for ALL the piple,

    why look, there’s this oferta del bono internacional PDVSA and the food policy, you know there’s food shortages already & Wall Street has placed bets of world hunger [Quantitative SumThin’]”.

    Well yes he can c..etumadre, she retorted with her sweet usual tone. La Catira from Hell. God am I an unfortunate exilee. Trying to make sense and find some sensible exchange

  14. @torres, by talking with both chavistas and antichavistas, in Venezuela and in the country in which I leave and cannot mention (Quico dixit), both dumb like me and most learned like you

    • If your reply to my question exemplifies how you do “talking”, then I can see why your attempts “to make sense and find some sensible exchange” have failed. By the way, it’s not that you’re dumb, it’s that you are closed. Filled cup, remember?

      • Torres, don’t waste your time, she is in a monologue with herself, the babbling will not stop even if you pray. It’s a pity, because if she was able be concrete and make a clear point we might actually be able to have a rational conversation with her, even if we disagreed on some points. But believe I have tried to follow her train of thought and I just end up giving up. You can’t communicate with someone who writes like she was just fumandose una lumpia.
        I am reading the papers you sent about the cash transfers, I have to say, you are making me think, thanks for sharing your thoughts on that and for being so passionate about it. We need more people like you.

  15. My cup of tea, an herbal mixture of capitalism a-la-German model, a witches’ brew not apt for some delicate stomachs more used to nursing on Fed’s milk.
    My idea of a functioning country: Germany. I hope a German company buys the New York Stock Exchange and starts cleaning the house of junk,1518,744820,00.html

  16. Mariaeu: “My idea of a functioning country: Germany.”

    Are you suggesting that the German model works as well for Germans as it would for Americans from USA, differences in culture be darned?

  17. @Torres, God forbid I say that. The German model —an adaptation of the basic tenets of (moderate Christian) socialism or Social Market Economy to a capitalist mode of production and a “Free” Market Economy— has yielded results in terms of growth, productivity, supervision of investment banking, and general wellbeing of the Germans and of their millions of Spanish and Turkish immigrants. It is worth examining and even of adapting as a model to one’s country’s trajectory and circumstances; but not even the European countries who admire it have been able to adopt it as is, nor that they want to do it either. They have their own models: Scandinavian, etc. I doubt there is any model as balanced as the German model. They learned the hard way, after two world wars and causing infinite pain and destruction to others and to themselves. They suffered a divided country for almost 40 years, a Babilonian Captivity to Communism; but, the fact that the communist GDR gave its people at least one good thing, job security, forced the capitalist side to always be watchful given the excesses of US capitalism (warmongering, legal & ilegal drugs, casino ventures, losses absorbed by das volk etc).
    Latin America provides alternative models, that are neither socialist a-la-German nor are they capitalist a-la-USA, as in the case of Brazil and Chile. Though both countries endure tremendous internal dislocation, in terms of distribution of wealth (GINI index, i.e.) and of education, the latter has managed to form a technocratic middle class that is quite admirable; one can say that it is ruled by a soft coalition.
    I have several Chilean friends of the right wing persuasion, so to speak, and learn many interesting things from them, as little as I understand about international business. They explain to me that, although Bachelet enjoyed very high aproval in the polls, she lost to Piñera, because the Chileans considered him very capable of taking the next step towards economic growth and personal wealth. Chile is also a very balanced country, ethnically speaking, which is a very good thing. They are lucky to have inherited the indomitable spirit of the never conquered, with the blood of the industrious Basque; they don’t have, as do the Brasileiros, a white 1% on top of a pyramid of poor blacks and mulattoes. The elite of plantation owners who intermarry the German of Minas Gerais or Rio Grande do Sul, faces a real leadership challenge. Let us see what Dilma delivers.
    Venezuela needs an opposition that examines other countries, that interacts with other models, and learn something from each of them. As varied as they are, they all include at least one aspect worth examining: it is either tremendous growth and ability to create a mixed system & adapt to capitalism by planning long term (China), or growth and distribution of wealth (Iran since Mosadeq, Iraq until W Bush, Israel until the Likud went nuts with its AIPAC power & New York connections), Chile, Brazil, Germany, Spain (until Aznar allowed the moslem radicals and the Goldman SacKs dudes to plant seeds, and then Zapatero followed along that destructive path).
    As you can see ALL of these countries have HORRIBLE aspects that VENEZUELA does NOT have. Venezuela is the most blessed land. La tierra de gracia.
    The thing that worries me sick about Venezuela is the horrendous violence, high index of crime and cocaine use. Even the polarization of Venezuelans is nothing compared to that. Polarization will pass, as nightmares pass, when the opposition starts sharing not only political power but real concern for el pueblo and real tasks on its behalf. A campaign to better the Venezuelans through vocational schools to prepare them in the new clean energy technologies, in linguistic skills and cooking skills and tourism, in academic exchange and partnership programs, etc. It has to start with a few people in both the oficialismo and the oposición willing to talk to each other sin caerse a piñas y mentársela … and have a good time, and laugh. Now, the “model” for that cannot be the US, where they only laught together when they are ripping us off. So I don’t know.
    Maybe the Salvadoreans? Caracas Chronicles should reach out to other countries.

    • Thank you for that. That is a very positive perspective, sound foundation for sensible exchange. I’m admit some surprise, given the antagonism you’ve been showing until now, but I am glad of it.

      It is precisely after looking at many different nations from many parts of the world that I started supporting the unconditional daily cash distribution proposal for Venezuela. If you read the links I’ve posted on the subject you’ll see that the experiences are from nations worldwide, including most of the ones you mentioned. Please, consider it.

      Once again, thanks for that; it brings back hope to the possibilities of proper discourse.

  18. @Torres, thanks & I will in a while, but I am being driven mad by some English professor who needs 2NITE a translation from 17th cent. English to 17th Spanish, with rhyme and witty verse included, so I no longer know what I speak, if anything.


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