The left's embrace of Chavez shows who is out of touch with America

The left's embrace of Chavez shows who is out of touch with America

Obama and ChavezWe hear ad nauseam that the right is out of touch with reality. Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, for instance, castigate the GOP for being “ideologically extreme,” and “unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science.” Yet the left’s latest embrace of Hugo Chavez’s authoritarian legacy demonstrates the very disregard of facts, evidence and real world results the left allegedly decries.

Let us first examine Chavez’s record. According to the Financial Times:

An immensely detailed, prescriptive and punitive regulatory regime stripped out the meaning of ownership even for those companies that were not seized outright. A thicket of rules on hiring, firing, working conditions, pricing and investment turned managers into little more than compliance agents, all too aware that violating any of the multiple, at times contradictory, restrictions they faced could invite an investigation leading to heavy fines or expropriation.

Such command-and-control policies led the The New York Times to report:

Venezuela had one of the lowest rates of economic growth in the region during the 14 years that Mr. Chávez held office, according to World Bank data. It has high inflation and chronic shortages of basic goods. It has one of the highest rates of violent crime, and it is riven by bitter political divisions.

Meanwhile, Mr. Chavez amassed a net worth of $2 billion, while GDP per Venezuelan was estimated to be $13,200 for 2012

The Wall Street Journal adds:

The official murder rate in 2012 was 73 per 100,000 inhabitants and the killing is happening mostly in low-income neighborhoods. Families of crime victims have no hope of getting justice for their loved ones.

Worse, according to Gallup, only 40 percent of Venezuelan citizens felt safe making political comments in public, and Venezuela placed highest out of all Latin American countries polled on the denial of opportunity to its citizens. This is in addition to Chavez’s dictatorial control of the news, media, and elections, not to mention his cozying up to Ahmadinejad’s terror-sponsoring Iran.

Despite these facts, here were some of the left’s reactions to his death:

–CNN host Larry King exalted the former Venezuelan leader as “huggable,” “larger than life,” and “fascinating,” adding that, “had he been an American Republican or Democrat he would have been an elected official.”

–Esteemed actor and left-wing activist Sean Penn lamented that “the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had. And poor people around the world lost a champion.”

–Distinguished left-wing director Oliver Stone bemoaned: “I mourn a great hero to the majority of his people and those who struggle throughout the world for a place. Hated by the entrenched classes, Hugo Chávez will live forever in history. My friend, rest finally in a peace long earned.”

–Filmmaker and firebrand Michael Moore tweeted, “Hugo Chávez declared the oil belonged 2 the ppl. He used the oil $ 2 eliminate 75% of extreme poverty, provide free health & education 4 all.”

These activists illustrate precisely the extremity and danger of Leftism: Its preoccupation with good intentions over results, which deludes otherwise good people into supporting poisonous ideas and leaders, such as Hugo Chavez.

If opposing tax hikes, Obamacare, stimulus packages, and other policy measures makes the right extreme, what is the left that extols Hugo Chavez to be labeled?

David Weinberger

David Weinberger

David Weinberger previously worked at the Heritage Foundation. He currently resides in the Twin Cities, and he blogs at


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