Egocentric, Hypocritical and Stupid

If we lose this elections (and chances are that we will), many people will start blaming the voters. We will see history repeating, the same speech I have heard on every election I have lived, except for the only one we ever won. I will heard, see, and read many people from the middle class whining about belonging to a such undemocratic country where its citizens are simply stupid enough to vote for the Revolution. I will see many people packing their bags to leave because “they can't stand this behavior”. I will hear that “the problem is with the culture, this barrio culture Venezuelan have”. One uncle/friend/columnist/academic/blogger will raise his glass and say “We have the government we deserve”

I have held the same speech, I said the same things when a Constitution Reform was approved allowing the president – and everyone holding a public charge such as governors and majors – to postulate on elections as many times and for as long as he wishes. I felt so bad of that result, that I quickly started blaming every single Venezuelan who voted different than me, calling them stupid, ignorant, irresponsible and so on. By doing so, I quickly forgot that I'm a Venezuelan as well and I'm not so different from the ones I blamed, the “culture” equally runs inside me. And if by some reason I'm “better”, I'm not doing anything to improve present conditions and turn the rest of the citizens into “better people”. I was just laying in bed, crying and covered with blankets, blaming the world for my own mess.

So lately, I have developed a certain allergy to such speech. I now consider it EGOCENTRIC, HYPOCRITICAL, and STUPID.

Egocentric because the ones who hold such speech consider themselves to be better than average Venezuelans. They usually made such claim based on the fact that they received (and took advantage) of a better education than average Venezuelans. I graduated from a private, prestigious school and then went to another private and even more prestigious university to earn a licenciado degree. Chances are that I will go to graduate school abroad to earn a masters, and then possibly a doctorate. Given my all time nerdy enthusiasm, I have a wide knowledge on a variety of subjects, specially history and political theory. I'm, without question, a cult and educated person. But does that makes me “better”?

Many educated people have voted for Chavez throughout this years, truly believing they were doing the right thing. Many educated middle or high middle class people have also voted for Chavez to make some juicious contracts with the government while assuring at social cocktails that they were oppo's. Many educated people claim to be against Chavez just because “he's a communist” or “I can't travel as much as I used to and my properties are in danger”... those are not “smart” reasons to give a vote to a candidate or proposal. If you are so educated, you could dig deeper, just saying... And many non educated people (which are usually the same people who didn't have resources to afford the education we brag about, but we often forget that) have proven to be smarter than educated ones. That's probably because

1) their creativity and their audacity remained intact given their lack of access to the formal and sometimes limited educating system. They are not afraid to make mistakes.
2) They are more humble, since they don't have a degree to boast about.
3) They found their own ways to learn, outside of the system. They probably could not learn as much as you and I, but they did learned a good deal.

Also if you are so educated then you are probably aware that many totalitarian regimes were possible in highly educated society (I'm not thinking about Franco obviously but does Nazi regime sound familiar?).
Hypocritical because some Venezuelans critique Venezuelans as if they were not the same kind. Venezuelans are this, and Venezuelans are than, but I'm not this or that. Or they do this or that but I don't. I'm not very religious, but in my catholic school they always remind us of a story of Jesus were he challenged a group to trow a stone to a prostitute, if anyone in the group could claim to be out of any sin. It's the same situation. No one is perfect, and no one can claim to be a perfect citizen. No one has always made the right political decision. We say Revolution supporters are this and that, but we pay to obtain a drivers license among many other documents, we ignore red lights every time we can, we trow garbage on the street when no one is looking or our cigarets despite looks. We miss treat employers, specially domestic ones, demanding from them more than what they can give us for the ridiculous amount we pay them. And then we travel to a foreign country and behave as model citizens just to come back home talking about the numerous advantages of the first world.

Stupid because such argument: to pretend to be better people than the ones who voted for Chavez, only leave us to intolerance, to intolerance, division and nothing else. Explaining an adversary electoral result based only in the behavior and will of its voters, ignores the broad context on which an election occurs and that a vote is not always a decision of a conscious will. More often, for our case and theirs, the decision comes from the heart, the decision arise from our most primitive emotions and instincts. When it comes to politics, we do not make rational decisions. I know this is extremely inconvenient: that something as delicate as politics lays like love in our hearts. But it is just how it is. This is not Disney Land and this not, for sure, your political theory book. Maybe this guy voted for Chavez because he's one of the few lucky ones who received benefits from a social mission and he was never considered by anyone before; maybe he voted for Chavez because he doesn't see the opposition as a viable option, maybe he's in a Chavista environment and from his scale of values it just seems right, maybe he's in love with Chavez and feels a religious fervor and reverence to Chavez. Yes, he might be in love. This political process has a religious component we can't ignore.

This religious component will not vanish just because. People will not “wake up” just because the government made a mistake or even a dozen mistakes. If things worked like that, none of us would be catholic by now, but most Venezuelans are, right? You might say “oh but this is different”. I think it is not, I think Chavismo is a religion. Sociologist have spoken about political religion for decades so I'm not saying anything new. I'm just stating It will require a lot of time and work and alternative options.

If you don't consider all this, and pretend your political opponent is just misinformed, ignorant or stupid; you are denying any way of negotiation or understanding from the start (and those are the keys of a democratic process). Chavez holds a language of hate, excluding anyone who opposes him, and calling this electoral campaign a process to “demolish” the opposition. And simply accusing of ignorance the ones who vote for him, you are acting just the same, paying with the same coin. I'm not saying acting like this is not fair, it probably is. I'm just saying that answering with an intolerant behavior to another intolerant behavior is stupid, since it not leads to any solution. Solutions sometimes compromise our ideals and can leave us to think on ways we never consider before. If you are not able to do that, if you are not able to even try to start understanding your political opponent, no matter how hard it is, if you just limit yourself to call it stupid or commie or ignorant instead; you are being the most stupid person ever. Your only way out is to leave the country to keep holding your stupid speech in the comfortable first world or lock in your house crossing your arms. I think that, despite if we stay or not, because some of us will inevitable leave just for looking for better life conditions, it is wiser to work to understand the other. At least try. No matter how painful and hard it can be, because believe me it is.

So if we lose this elections (and we probably will), I will blame no one. I will only consider it as the probably course (not curse) of a country which has had so many events, good and bad decisions, deep economical divisions, ignorance and stupidity (in general, and not exclusive of some groups) that has lead us to this. We don't deserve it, no one does. But we can do it better, because even the most stupid people inside the most stupid regimes have manage to make smart decisions. But we need to lower our heads first, to start considering the other, and to stop listing our degrees every time we introduce ourselves. We should be better than that. Just saying...