Nicolas Maduro, the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s hand-picked successor, celebrates his victory in Venezuela’s presidential election yesterday. The sore losers on the right are trying to cripple Maduro right out of the gate by casting unsubstantiated charges of election fraud, just like the wingnuts do here at home.
I say that tongue in cheek. Of course 50.7 percent of the vote isn’t a mandate (the definition of which to me is something like “unquestionably strong majority support,” which, I suppose, would need to at least approach 60 percent), but I am struck by the irony of how the unelected Bush regime (and its friends in the corporately owned and controlled media) called its 50.7 percent of the popular vote in 2004 a “mandate” while the very same wingnuts say that Nicolas Maduro’s 50.7 percent in yesterday’s presidential election in Venezuela means that the Chavistas are in deep doo-doo because Maduro didn’t do better than he did.
Why wasn’t George W. Bush’s 50.7 percent painted as a problem for his party in 2004 — even though, in retrospect, it seems fairly clear that Bush’s 50.7 percent was, in fact, far from being a “mandate,” actually a harbinger of upcoming presidential election losses for the Repugnican Party?
(Bush’s 50.7 percent in 2004 was higher than the 47.9 percent that he got in 2000 — when he was defeated by Democrat Al Gore, who got 48.4 percent of the popular vote — but Barack Obama, with his popular vote wins of 52.9 percent in 2008 and 51.1 percent in 2012 [to Mittens Romney’s awfully ironic 47.2 percent], earned more popular votes that Bush ever did.)
It fits the right wing’s narrative nicely to assert that Nicolas Maduro is a weakened president from Day One. It wasn’t in the wingnuts’ best interests to assert that Bush was a weakened president, so instead they claimed the opposite — that his 50.7 represented a “mandate.” Bush himself bragged about having earned “political capital” that he was going to spend on a shopping spree.
Indeed, Bush not only spent any “political capital” that he’d actually earned, but he ran up his party’s credit card debt, a debt that still plagues his party. (Not only do the Repugnican Tea Party traitors still talk as though Ronald Reagan was the last Repugnican president, but I clearly recall that even while Bush still sat in the White House in 2008, neither John McCainosaurus nor Sarah Palin mentioned him in their televised national debates or in their public appearances, but also pretended that Reagan was the last president from their party.)
So: If you are a right-wing politician, then your 50.7 percent is a “mandate.” But if you are a left-wing politician, then your 50.7 percent means that the vote was so freakin’ close that you might as well just step aside and allow your opponent to take office instead of you.
Sickly, even many on the left fall into this double-standard bullshit, and, as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) noted in November, while Bush’s “re”-election immediately was branded a “mandate,” even though he “won” only 286 electoral votes in 2004, Obama’s win of more than 300 electoral votes in November was “definitely not a mandate.” (After all of the votes were counted, it turns out that Obama won 332 electoral votes in November.)
When push comes to shove, it doesn’t matter whether Nicolas Maduro won a “mandate” yesterday. All that he needed to do was get the higher number of votes — to the victor goes the spoils — and he apparently did that. His right-wing opponent, Henrique Capriles, has demanded a recount, and Maduro has said that he’s fine with every vote being recounted.
Of course, Maduro can’t claim, as the unelected Bush regime falsely did in 2004, that he has a “mandate,” but at the same time he shouldn’t allow himself to be stymied by the right-wing sore losers’ attempts to cripple him right out of the gate. A win is a win, and very apparently he, not Capriles, was chosen by the majority of the people.
(Despite right-wing charges of rampant election fraud in Venezuela, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, whose organization monitors elections around the world, said last year, “As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.” [Of course, Jimmy Carter is just a “socialist,” too, so of course he would say that!])
Maduro, no doubt, has his work cut out for him. My guess is that the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, after he had consolidated his political power, in his later years didn’t work as hard for the people as he had in the past (in fairness, though, of course his battle with cancer no doubt slowed him down), and Maduro needs to be more about improving Venezuela than about maintaining a rock-star brand name, especially the Chavez brand name.
Chavez is gone, and while it’s fine to carry on his ideals — I hope that they are carried on not only in Venezuela, but that they spread to the United States of America one day — it’s a mistake to make a movement about one person instead of about principles, because while principles can be eternal, the flesh is weak and quite impermanent.
As long as Maduro and his supporters refuse to get caught up in the right wing’s bullshit propagandistic narrative that Maduro didn’t really win the election, and as long as Maduro works hard for the greatest number of Venezuelans — as his own person, and not as the clone of Chavez — Maduro can be re-elected in another six years.
In the meantime, all of us on the left, regardless of which nation we live in, need to be vigilant about the double standards. The bar always has been set higher for those on the left than it has been for those on the right, and at the minimum we on the left need to stop cooperating with that bullshit. The wingnuts act like they’re winners even when they’ve lost, and we on the left tend to act like we’re losers even when we’ve won.
And Senor Presidente: That pornstache prolly should go. Just sayin’.