FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Chavez Succeeded Where Obama Failed

When President Obama campaigned in 2008 in Portland, Oregon over 70,000 people came to hear his speech. And although I missed the event, I was intrigued by the raw emotion that the candidate’s words inspired in my community. Obama re-visited Oregon during his 2012 campaign, but the inspiration had faded from his voice, and the audience had drastically changed. The Oregonian explains:

“The Obama campaign said about 950 tickets, costing $500 to $1,000 were sold for the main fundraiser at the Oregon Convention Center. The president also spoke, out of view of the press, to about 25 donors who bought $30,000 tickets.”

The late President Chavez, on the other hand, steadily increased the crowds of people who came to hear him speak, year after year, election after election, rally after rally. The secret? Whereas President Obama could only speak about “hope” and “change,” President Chavez actually delivered.

It was this delivery that earned Chavez the hatred of both Bush Jr. and Obama. Chavez humiliated Bush Jr. by surviving the U.S.-sponsored military coup against him and humiliated the entire U.S. media by winning election after election by large margins, elections that former President Jimmy Carter said were the fairest in the world. Meanwhile, the U.S. media tied itself into knots trying to explain how a “would be dictator” easily won elections that nobody disputed.

Chavez won elections because he was loved by the working and poor people of Venezuela. Chavez was loved by his people because he was a politician like none they had ever experienced. He was “their” politician, and he loved them.

And one doesn’t become the official politician of working people, the poor and downtrodden in an extremely poor country by using fancy words. Chavez backed up his big talk time after time, consistently overcoming barriers erected by the wealthy by taking bold action that benefited the majority of Venezuelans. Their hope in him was repeatedly renewed by action.

Inequality shrank under Chavez, poverty was dramatically reduced, education and health care improved, and illiteracy was eliminated. When the economy reeled from the 2008 global crisis, Chavez didn’t bail out the banks and pander to the wealthy, but increased social spending for the most vulnerable. When cataclysmic landslides threw hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans into homelessness, Chavez housed them all.

President Obama has nearly the exact opposite track record. The big banks remain the big winners in the Obama Administration, having been bailed out and then given an endless supply of cheap money via the Federal Reserve that has boosted their profits. All of this takes place while the job crisis grinds on for working people, creating an endless supply of austerity budgets on the city, state, and national level. When new jobs become available they are below a living wage.

Although Obama’s speeches are masterful renditions of a watered-down Chavez speech, the action component of the English version was always left un-translated.

Whereas Chavez confronted the wealthy and corporations, Obama succumbed to them. Ultimately, these are their respective legacies. Obama, via action, has chosen a path in support of his corporate sponsors, whereas Chavez’s path went in the opposite direction — a much rockier, conflict-laden path, made all the more difficult by U.S. foreign policy in support of Venezuela’s anti-Chavez top 1%. Above all, Chavez insured that the oil wealth of his country did not stay in the hands of Venezuela’s oligarchy, which had previously kept a tight grip on it. Chavez used it to raise millions of Venezuelans out of poverty.

Chavez’s legacy will live and breathe in those who will continue his fight for a better world, still inspired by his words and actions. Obama’s legacy, however, was stillborn after the 2008 elections, with “hope” never delivered alongside “change” never attempted.

Obama’s 2008 campaign slogans now only inspire feelings of betrayal to those who believed in him, while the corporations and wealthy will celebrate Obama’s legacy, a tribute to his pro-corporate policies. In the final analysis, Chavez will be remembered for boldly taking action against the same inhuman inequality that is growing in most countries in the world. In so doing, Chavez earned the hatred of the elite who benefit from this system-wide inequality, while the rest of us on the bottom of the inequality-spectrum owe him our appreciation, since Chavez’s fight was our fight too.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org)  He can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail.com

More articles by:

Shamus Cooke is a member of the Portland branch of Democratic Socialists of America. He can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail.com

June 21, 2018
Dean Baker
When Both Men and Women Drop Out of the Labor Force, Why Do Economists Only Ask About Men?
Bruce Lerro
Big Brother Facebook: Drawing Down the Iron Curtain on Yankeedom
June 20, 2018
Henry Giroux
Trump’s War on Children is an act of State Terrorism
Bill Hackwell
Unprecedented Cruelty Against Immigrants and Their Children
Paul Atwood
“What? You Think We’re So Innocent?”
Nicola Perugini
The Palestinian Tipping Point
K.J. Noh
Destiny and Daring: South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s Impossible Journey Towards Peace
Gary Leupp
Jeff Sessions and St. Paul’s Clear and Wise Commands
M. G. Piety
On Speaking Small Truths to Power
Dave Lindorff
Some Straight Talk for Younger People on Social Security (and Medicare too)
George Wuerthner
The Public Value of Forests as Carbon Reserves
CJ Hopkins
Confession of a Putin-Nazi Denialist
David Schultz
Less Than Fundamental:  the Myth of Voting Rights in America
Rohullah Naderi
The West’s Over-Publicized Development Achievements in Afghanistan 
Dan Bacher
California Lacks Real Marine Protection as Offshore Drilling Expands in State Waters
Lori Hanson – Miguel Gomez
The Students of Nicaragua’s April Uprising
Russell Mokhiber
Are Corporations Behind Frivolous Lawsuits Against Corporations?
Michael Welton
Infusing Civil Society With Hope for a Better World
June 19, 2018
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
We Can Thank Top Union Officials for Trump
Lawrence Davidson
The Republican Party Falls Apart, the Democrats Get Stuck
Sheldon Richman
Trump, North Korea, and Iran
Richard Rubenstein
Trump the (Shakespearean) Fool: a New Look at the Dynamics of Trumpism
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Protect Immigrant Rights; End the Crises That Drive Migration
Gary Leupp
Norway: Just Withdraw From NATO
Kristine Mattis
Nerd Culture, Adultolescence, and the Abdication of Social Priorities
Mike Garrity
The Forest Service Should Not be Above the Law
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Activism And Smears Masquerade As Journalism: From Seralini To Jairam Ramesh, Aruna Rodrigues Puts The Record Straight
Doug Rawlings
Does the Burns/Novick Vietnam Documentary Deserve an Emmy?
Kenneth Surin
2018 Electioneering in Appalachian Virginia
Nino Pagliccia
Chrystia Freeland Fails to See the Emerging Multipolar World
John Forte
Stuart Hall and Us
June 18, 2018
Paul Street
Denuclearize the United States? An Unthinkable Thought
John Pilger
Bring Julian Assange Home
Conn Hallinan
The Spanish Labyrinth
Patrick Cockburn
Attacking Hodeidah is a Deliberate Act of Cruelty by the Trump Administration
Gary Leupp
Trump Gives Bibi Whatever He Wants
Thomas Knapp
Child Abductions: A Conversation It’s Hard to Believe We’re Even Having
Robert Fisk
I Spoke to Palestinians Who Still Hold the Keys to Homes They Fled Decades Ago – Many are Still Determined to Return
Steve Early
Requiem for a Steelworker: Mon Valley Memories of Oil Can Eddie
Jim Scheff
Protect Our National Forests From an Increase in Logging
Adam Parsons
Reclaiming the UN’s Radical Vision of Global Economic Justice
Dean Baker
Manufacturing Production Falls in May and No One Notices
Laura Flanders
Bottom-Up Wins in Virginia’s Primaries
Binoy Kampmark
The Anguish for Lost Buildings: Embers and Death at the Victoria Park Hotel
Weekend Edition
June 15, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Dan Kovalik
The US & Nicaragua: a Case Study in Historical Amnesia & Blindness
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail