As so often happens, I will be reading an article and it is the lesser points that jump out at me. The main thrust of the author's viewpoint goes one way and I step off on a side street. This happened the other day as I was reading Chavez v. Obama: the Final Score by Jason Hithler. While the author spent most of his column inches comparing and contrasting Obama and Chavez on several pertinent issues, here's the part that caught my eye.
In last October’s election, Chavez won 55 percent of the vote in demolishing one-percent stooge Henrique Capriles. A record 97 percent of eligible Venezuelans registered and many millions voted, causing the normally unstinting election critic Jimmy Carter to say, “…of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.”
By contrast, the 2012 election in the United States reflected the general public’s lack of enthusiasm for either candidate on offer. The president, claiming the mandate of the American people, was reelected with a paltry 29 percent of eligible voters in tow — in an election notable only in that 90 million eligible voters were too dispirited to vote or were barred from participation.
Look at that huge disparity in voter participation. Almost every eligible voter in Venezuela registered to vote, while the US is lucky to claim 50 percent.
As regular readers know, I am one of those 90 million who didn't vote in the presidential election. I detested both mainstream candidates and decided that a vote for a minor candidate was pointless. So, I skipped that section of my ballot completely.
Despite the fact Obama only won 51.1% of the votes cast -- as shown above, that equates to a mere 29% of eligible voters -- he is acting like he won by a fricking landslide. He is behaving like he was handed some sort of mandate. In truth, far more people didn't vote for him as opposed to those who did.
But silly little facts like that don't matter in the American-style winner-take-all electoral system. As long as you beat your opponent by a measly vote, you are king. You get to strut around and high five your supporters. You get to spike the ball in the end zone. You get to act like the country and world loves you. Best of all, you get to pretend that your narrow victory was some sort of overwhelming landslide...even when you're, in reality, underneath the rocks.