August 5, 2008

Nickname cheat nails it again

Quico says: For the second time this year I find myself compelled to translate one of Kico Bautista's columns. The guy is good.

In a way, Kico is the anti-Yon Goicoechea. Whereas Yon comes across as substantive, brave and clearheaded when he speaks, but totally empty in print, with Kico it's the exact opposite. Today, he puts into emotional words the kinds of theories political scientists only know how to communicate in jargon:
The Sanction
by Kico Bautista

Public opinion needs to come up with a way to sanction those opposition politicos who, despite being behind in the polls and breaking their word, think they can go on to the bitter end. I don't mean burning them at the stake, electro-shocking them or taking them to the firing squad. I just mean we need to find a way to put them in their place, rap them over the knuckles and see if we can get the message through to them.

They deserve everything but tolerance.

Whether it's on purpose or not, they work for the other side. It would be comforting to see them strapped to a chair and forced to watch Aló Presidente on a neverending loop.

You might call it a kind of torture, an act that violates all human rights, maybe. That's not the issue here, though. The issue is you've got to have some way to badger the thick into line.

It's not my theory. I took it from Colette Capriles, that very smart social psychologist who writes in the papers and shows up on the radio and TV shows to tell us about that brain-twister that is politicians' behavior.

Colette says our country's basic problem has been in trying to consolidate institutions, among other things in response to this weird phenomenon that happens in the opposition and is a constant in Venezuelans' behavior. People don't keep their words, don't follow the law, or even the stop lights, or anything else.

And since the politicians, those who govern, don't keep their campaign promises, society comes to understand that lying is normal, even healthy.

That's why we're in the mess we're in.

On January 23rd a deal was signed that was more than logical: it was necessary. And we have a lot to lose. Nothing guarantees that we will win most of the mayoralties or governorships. It's an issue of discourse, of policy. Right now, our best shot is to pool our strength together: we have none to spare.

We can't afford to give a pass to those who, for whatever reason, put their interests ahead of those of the collectivity. It's true that, little by little, we've managed the hard, painstaking task of building our unity.

We need the confidence of knowing we've managed it. But that's not enough. We need to set a precedent, we have to establish that those who break with the poll results will be made to pay a price by the grassroots, and a high one.

Those gentlemen mustn't get a single vote. We have to leave them out on their own, to make sure they don't get interviewed anywhere, that nobody contributes a cent to their campaigns. We need to get tough and play hardball, just like they do.

It's no little thing that's at stake. Chávez feeds on our mistakes. The guy never loses his bearings, and he wants to finish us off. He took a step back on the Intelligence Law and the school curriculum thing, but now he's on the offensive again. He must have sensed our weakness somehow.

If we don't defeat him roundly on November 23rd, he'll bring back the idea of indefinite re-election.

Chávez knows that his stay in power depends on having his messianic streak ratified. He is the leader, the illuminated. He was sent by God to bring us to that kingdom of happiness he calls Socialism of the 21st Century. It's just the old trick of the egomaniac who makes up some noble cause so he can govern forever.

So? Then? Are we supposed to be all "understanding" for these misunderstood gentlemen who refuse to abide by the outcome of recent surveys. "Oh, I went out on the streets and saw the energy out there"; or "well, I'm behind now, but in two or three...years I'll be ahead"?

I'm sorry if this offends you, but too much of what we've criticized Chávez for is stuff you're carrying around in your heads. There are no excuses. There was enough time for each of you to work out your mise en scene. The time is now. Our slogan is: "not a single vote for those who aren't in the unity camp."