Less than five years ago, in a quite different republic, I recall a conversation with a person prior to the 2008 presidential election. I told him that if Barack Obama was elected and the Democrats held the House and 60 Senate seats, that our country would be irreparably harmed in one term. Of course I was laughed at. It wasn’t much of a prophecy, really. Based on the track records of Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi it was inevitable.
What has surprised me is the level to which the Administration has embraced Chavismo. I’m not speaking of the normal rough and tumble of politicians trying to discredit their rivals, but a true populist thugocracy. It is seen first in the language. There was of course the scorn that candidate Obama showed for the “guns and religion” crowd. That was not an aberration. What past President would have said publicly that “we’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us…?” (Oct. 2010) In tone and tenor that seems no different from Chavez saying to a political opponent, “You have a pig’s tail, a pig’s ears, you snort like a pig, you’re a low-life pig. You’re a pig, don’t try and hide it.” And of course, while our current President did not directly refer to President Bush as the devil like Chavez, his euphemisms made it plain that he thought that characterization not entirely offensive.
The President’s actions have not belied his words. Consider just these.
- Seizing private assets (GM, Chrysler, AIG) from the stock holders and creditors (compare with “Expropriate it!” – Chavez on live T.V during nationalizations).
- Trillions in new debt wasted on State-directed spending, much of which was funneled to traditional constituencies of the Administration. (Change in government debt as percent of GDP from 2008 to 2011: Venezuela, +71%, U.S. +47%).
- The infamous HHS mandate, a frontal assault on the organization that has done the most to resist the moral decay in the U.S. Chavez, a Catholic himself, referred to Catholic officials who opposed him as “liars,”, “ignorant perverts,” and “Neanderthals.” Interestingly, pushing sex instead of individual responsibility is a tactic of totalitarian governments, to pacify and ultimately dehumanize the subjects of the State, akin to the bread and circuses of Rome. Free condoms instead of gladiators.
- The recent DOJ subpoena of the Associated Press including over 20 phone lines affecting over 100 reporters. James Rosen of Fox News has become a target for simply acting as a journalist. Chavez of course used his own gangs of thugs to intimidate journalists who did not toe his line.
- The recent IRS scandal showing one more arm of government using the power of the State to intimidate otherwise law-abiding organizations and citizens not aligned with Caesar. Chavez of course used the apparatus of State power very effectively to silence and control his opponents.
Pick any current agency (SEC, National Labor Relations Board, etc.) and the story is the same – rule by threat and intimidation. Do you know the Venezuelan national anthem? Neither do I , but I suspect the Star-Spangled Banner is sounding more like it every day.