Sobremesa Chronicles

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huevoschimbos_jpg_525_0This has been a rough week for us Venezuelans.

Each new day brought with it a new embarassment, most of it having to do with the government. Each day a new raya.

Whether it’s the harassment of ex-Presidents and political prisoners, the revelations of drug smuggling in high places, the orders to shoot protesters, the death of media outlets, the nonsense spewed by chavista talking heads, the government’s notion of a “tourism campaign,” or their inappropriate use of private images, it seems as if we are governed by lunatics.

Chavismo is a problem, but not one related to policy choice. It is a problem of individuals, of the kind of people we have in power. It goes beyond actions. It’s about who these people are.

If it is true that we are governed by murderers, thieves, drug smugglers, goons, idiots, and unrepentant propagandists, then I think it’s high time we started talking about the character of the people we elect. It’s high time we started looking at our leaders’ moral compass … so that we don’t end up governmend by murderers, thieves, drug smugglers, goons, idiots, and unrepentant propagandists.

I’ve been mulling over this issue for a while. It was brought home a few weeks ago when I wrote that post about David Smolansky focusing on the virtue of humility. To me it’s obvious that asking questions about the values system of a politician is a useful thing to do. Many disagreed.

“Bah,” many of you seemed to be saying, “I don’t care what values a politician brings to the table, I just wanna know what he plans to do. Talk about a politician’s virtues is sanctimonious crap.”

When we size up politicians, we look at a lot of things: how he looks, how he speaks, whether he or she has labia, whether or not he connects with people. But … have you ever wondered if we don’t give enough importance to the person’s core values?

Time and again we seem to elect people without really questioning their moral fiber. For example, what did we know about Nicolás Maduro before electing him? Aside from hugging every statue of the Virgin he comes across with, what do we know about Henrique Capriles’ values? How did jail change him, exactly? What does Maria Corina stand for? Do Carlos Ocariz’s private affairs inform us of who he is? What is jail doing to Leopoldo’s beliefs?

I’m not talking about religion, or family life, or their background, their education, whether or not they cheat at poker, whether or not they read, whether or not they drink too much, or take drugs, or have mistresses, or cheat on their taxes, or have a house that’s simply too expensive for them to afford.

I’m talking … about all of that put together. I’m talking about finding out who these people really are, what forces shape their souls.

Venezuelans tend to be very relaxed about their leaders’ private lives.

Cecilia Matos? Not important. Let’s look at CAP’s policies.

Jaime Lusinchi’s drinking problem? Not important. Let’s focus on what he intends to do, on how many votes he brings us.

Diosdado Cabello’s strange wealth? Who cares!

It’s not about being prurient or holier-than-thou. It’s about going beyond the superficial in examining a person’s record. It involves putting the issue of character and moral fiber in its rightful place, and not ignoring it altogether.

I don’t know about you, but after looking at Luisa Ortega, Vladimir Padrino, Diosdado Cabello, Nicolás Maduro, Andrés Izarra, and the rest of the lot in charge, I think a little bit of vetting … wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Have a great weekend everyone!