re-election

Both Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez – political leaders who use government handouts to amass support and power, control the media to bolster their image, and blame the rich for everything – have once again seized power in their respective countries.

In the face of economic recessions, Obama and Chavez were re-elected recently with the help of a growing number of devout followers who saw the men not as presidents, but as providers and saviors.

The results show how a political party can buy voters and swing an election. What’s worse, America is headed in the same path as Venezuela, which today is worn down and depleted of its resources, and its frustrated citizens are caught in a rut of stunted progress and a stagnant economy.

“Obama is implementing the same ideas that are implemented in my country,” said Tomás, a Venezuelan American citizen who currently attends college on the East Coast. “People are ignorant of the implications of voting for Obama, which is absurd when they have clear evidence in Venezuela of what these ideologies can do. It might take a long time to happen here in the U.S., I don’t know. But the outcome is always the same – it will bring a country to ruins.”

In Venezuela’s case, in early October its residents re-elected their socialist president, Chavez, to the utter devastation of millions of Venezuelans across the globe.

But he was elected democratically. Venezuela even implemented a brand new electronic voting system that was deemed fraud-free by the U.S.-based Carter Center, which has observed Venezuelan elections for decades.

How can a country faced with horrific crime, a stagnant economy and extreme poverty vote for more of the same for the next six years? The real fraud happened before the election.

Chavez used the millions of Venezuelans dependent on government aid programs, the resources of the state at his disposal, and control over the country’s mass media, to sway the outcome of his election.

His efforts were wildly successful, as a majority of Venezuelans freely chose to continue living under the socialist regime, complete with its astronomically high murder rates and extreme poverty, in exchange for government handouts.

Eight million Venezuelans are directly dependent on the government for either their income or for substantial handouts, according to a study by The Cato Institute. Coincidentally or not, Chavez won by earning 8 million votes.

Today in the United States, 67.3 million Americans depend on the government for housing, food, income, student aid or other assistance, more than enough to turn the tide of an election.

The 6 million Venezuelans who voted for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles have found themselves sorely outnumbered by a society so dependent on government that even the utter devastation of their country around them will not sway their support of Chavez.

I had the opportunity to visit Venezuela in February to get a first-hand glimpse of what a once-bright star of Latin America looks like after ten years of socialism under Chavez.

Things are bad over there. Children are murdered and kidnapped in the streets. Skilled and educated parents are forced to watch their families starve because the government crushed any opportunity for them.

And still, Venezuelans voted for Chavez. Venezuela’s plight offers Americans valuable lessons about what happens when a government spends unsustainable amounts of money in an effort create dependency and therefore garner support.

Chavez expropriated a majority of Venezuela’s industries, businesses and private property, all under the guise of “making the rich pay their fair share.”

He implemented socialized healthcare and severely limited the freedom of the press. He also began a campaign that was akin to some sort of government-sanctioned version of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Rhetorically, he turned the upper class into the enemy, and opposed private interests and entrepreneurship.

No one who understands the situation is really happy with the results – a once-vibrant Venezuelan economy that is now a mire of government bureaucracy and inefficiency.

But Chavez maintains his fan base.

I attended one of his rallies in the capital city of Caracas. A sea of people dressed in red, some even costumed like Che Guevara, were shouting: “We are nothing without Chavez!” They marched to militaristic music blasted through the whole city singing, “We will conquer!” Venezuelan radio stations were not allowed to return to their regular programming until Chavez’ speech was over, five hours later.

David Uzcategui, one opposition leader, ran for mayor of Baruta, a powerful suburb of Caracas. He thinks that excessive welfare has turned Venezuela into a country of dependents.

“The government has dedicated itself to a policy not of expropriations, but of confiscations – of businesses, of factories, of companies, of land, of commercial centers – but without any return,” he told me in Spanish. “They have been confiscated for the ‘collective well-being.’”

Twenty years ago, he pointed out, Venezuela’s economy thrived on oil exports and foreign investment under a democratic and generally free market government.

“Never have we had, in the history of Venezuela, so much stability and gain from oil…and never have we known or reached oil revenue at such high rates, that could be used to construct highways, roads and increase private investment,” Uzcategui said. “But it has only been used to increase bureaucracy and populism, and not to generate employment and opportunity.”

In the United States, in the midst of one of the greatest recessions the country has ever faced, staggeringly high unemployment rates and a faltering market, Americans voted for Obama.

In the same spirit as Chavez’ supporters, they voted for more government spending, more handouts, and more welfare under the theory that somehow, if we just redistribute wealth, prosperity will follow.

The real problem, as Obama convinced the American people, just like Chavez did, is the rich. And when we can stamp out the ability for the brightest and the best to earn the most income, we will finally achieve equality.

Yes, we are headed down the same slippery slope as Venezuela. In fact, we’re not just headed there – we’re running there at lightening speed.

We are getting close to the point where government dependents may have such electoral power that those independent from such aid may never be able to turn an election in their favor again, and the government facilitating the handouts will be impossible to overturn democratically.

But we are fortunate, in a dark way, because Venezuela is already a few steps ahead on the same path. We get the chance to see the horrific devastation of a once-prosperous country before it happens on our own soil. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to stop it before it is too late.

Fix contributor Regina Conley is a student at Catholic University of America.

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If conservative lawmakers want to win elections, they better pay attention to and address youth voters currently swayed by leftist professors who indoctrinate them for Democrats with cherry-picked lesson plans and biased lectures, several prominent educators told The College Fix.

“If those who value America’s deeper traditions hope to win future elections, they had better get serious about higher education,” said Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars. “Ceding the colleges and universities to cultural and political progressives has led to generations of graduates who have scant knowledge of our nation’s founding principles, a distorted understanding of its ideals, and settled patterns of disdain for genuine intellectual diversity.”

And that’s affecting how they vote, bigtime.

President Barack Obama won re-election with the help of 18- to 29-year-olds. Sixty percent of voters that age broke for Obama, compared with the 37 percent in that category who supported Republican contender Mitt Romney, exit polls showed. Those figures were especially hard felt in key swing states Romney needed to win the election, as young voters came through for Obama in Ohio, Florida and Virginia, where he led by margins of about 20 to 30 percentage points against Romney among 18- to 29-year-olds.

While popular culture and Obama’s hip image played a role in that outcome, what young people learn from their professors is just as influential, several scholars told The College Fix.

“The character of our universities and the make-up of the faculty certainly has a lot to do with the turn-out of young people for Barack Obama,” said Paul Rahe, a history professor at Hillsdale College. “To a degree that is shocking, the professoriate has become openly, even ostentatiously partisan in recent years. … In the last decade or so … academics of a conservative disposition have almost entirely been shut out.”

Wood notes many students don’t even realize they’re being fed partisan politics from the podium.

“College professors have an out-sized influence on their students, though the students often fail to realize it,” Wood said. “The influence surely has as much to do with the attitudes teachers convey and the ambiance they create on campus as it does the specific substance of what they say. A great deal is conveyed by what professors choose to ignore or to treat dismissively.”

For example, notes Emory University English professor Mark Bauerlein: “If a course in freshman composition examines the Civil Rights movement but includes no readings coming from those at the time who worried about issues of states’ rights and federal intervention (but might otherwise have been entirely free of racism, such as Barry Goldwater), then we have a skew to the left but none of the 18-year-olds notice. Here we can’t really get input from students about the effects because students aren’t even aware of them.”

These influences by omission, as well as outright propagandizing by professors, take their toll on students, Wood said.

“A great deal of contemporary higher education aims at drawing students in the opposite direction—away from personal responsibility and towards images of themselves as members of groups whose only meaningful actions arise from participation in those groups’ struggles,” he said. “The campus is, in this sense, among the least diverse places in American life. A dreary uniformity of opinion pervades it, all the drearier because the campus authorities and increasingly the students proceed under the self-willed illusion that they are robust individualists who just coincidentally all think the same thing by margins of eight or nine to one.”

And while the role of higher education is vital in shaping young people’s minds – and thus the future of America – popular culture and what’s held up as important by secular society also pervades how college students think, the educators said.

“Most adolescents enter college already solidly in the liberal camp, though not in an informed way,” Bauerlein said. “The culture they consume on TV, in youth music, in movies, and on the Web is altogether anti-conservative. Traditional authorities are mocked and rebellious teens are glamorized. … After years of Lady Gaga, Friends, and the rest, conservatism strikes them as authoritarian and backward and irrelevant. With his interviews in Rolling Stone and appearances on The Daily Show, Obama seems a whole lot more hip and timely and multicultural than a white guy in a suit. That influence means a whole lot more than the leftist twerp in Sociology 101.”

Rahe offered similar sentiments.

“There is another reason … why college students may have sided with Barack Obama,” he said. “He presented himself as the great defender of the sexual revolution – which began on American campuses in the late 1960s when I was a student and which has its primary home there today. My generation of students was the first generation that was self-righteous about its vices, and today’s students have inherited our propensity to foolishness. Barack Obama used that foolishness to play on them like a fiddle.”

Bauerlein also didn’t offer a lot of confidence in young people’s discernment either, saying of the youth vote: “Of course, we could also chalk it up to teenage stupidity, the chumps. After all, the climbing debt is THEIR debt more than anyone else’s.”

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“Fifty years after a deadly riot at the University of Mississippi, the Ole Miss campus finds itself in the middle of a new racial controversy, this one related to President Barack Obama’s re-election,” a CBS news affilate reports.

An estimated 400 students rallied against the news, and even tossed around racial slurs, the CBS website reported.

Many were chanting and holding up political signs.

Campus police ordered the crowd to disperse and students went back to their dorms. But about 100 students gathered again at a residence hall.

Some students shouted racial slurs.

“While we are grateful that there were no injuries and there was no property damage, we are very disappointed in those students who took a very immature and uncivil approach to expressing their views about the election,” said University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones. “The gathering seems to have been fueled by social media, and the conversation should have stayed there.”

 

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Democrats and leftist ideologues celebrating President Barack Obama’s re-election claim it’s proof that Republicans must become more liberal minded if they want to win elections, but one professor argues just the opposite.

Lester Hunt, a professor of philosophy at University of Wisconsin-Madison, said in an interview with The College Fix that Republicans will actually become more ideological to win future ballot contests.

The background on that argument, Hunt explains, requires a little American history lesson.

Candidates used to be chosen by political professionals, who chose candidates who they thought could win, Hunt said. Now they are chosen in primaries, by voters, who choose candidates they like.

“Since the average voter is non-ideological, this biases the system in favor of non-ideological … moderate candidates, like (Mitt) Romney,” he said. “If such a candidate is running against an ideological candidate, like Obama, the moderate is poorly positioned to deliver the contrasting message.”

With that, the presidential election will change the Republican party, Hunt opined.

“It will become more ideological,” he said. “Had they won, they would have been led by a non-ideological person for four years. They will not be working under that burden.”

Asked about how Obama won, Hunt suggested that “in his entire life, Obama has only ever demonstrated that he possesses one skill-set to superlative degree: those employed in running for office.”

Fix contributor Joseph Diedrich is a student at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

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The youth vote gave President Barack Obama an edge in his victory Tuesday. A national exit poll found Obama secured 60 percent of the youth vote, compared with Mitt Romney’s 36 percent.

Politico.com notes that’s a smaller percentage than Obama’s youth vote advantage against Sen. John McCain in 2008, but young voters came through for Obama last night in the key swing states of Ohio, Florida and Virginia, where he led by margins of about 20 to 30 percentage points against Romney among 18- to 29-year-olds.

An article on The Huffington Post trumpets another milestone for Obama as well:

“Obama’s 60 percent to 36 percent victory among young people this year is smaller than his 66 percent-31 percent win over John McCain in 2008, but it is still the highest any Democratic presidential candidate scored in 30 years among 18- to 29 year-olds,” the article states. “Voters from ages 18 to 29 represented 19 percent of all those who voted on Tuesday, according to the early National Exit Poll conducted by Edison Research. That’s an increase of one percentage point from 2008.”

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