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Good Look In The Mirror
Despite all that divides this country, there is one underlying factor that unites us all, we are Americans. Despite what we think of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we stand and cheer when some service men and women come on the big screen at a sporting event. Despite what we think is the best next step for our nation, we respect (for the most part) the other side of the argument. As the election draws nearer, and especially after last night's debate, the rhetoric will be ratcheted up, but we are all Americans and know that the process works.
Sure, Americans love to protest and speak their minds, but it rarely gets violent. The same can't be said about the Presidential election down in Venezuela right now. Socialist autocrat Hugo Chavez is supposedly in the fight of his political life against Henrique Capriles, who has formed a coalition across the political spectrum under the banner of the Democratic Unity coalition (MUD). There were protests at each party's conventions last month in the United States; a few people were arrested, but no one was hurt. Down in Venezuela at a recent rally for Mr. Capriles, supporters of Chavez threw rocks across a road into the rally, set fire to a car, and vandalized many vehicles.
Wars have been fought over the succession of power, but every four years, the United States goes through a transition, and for the most part, it is extremely painless. Chavez has been in power since 1999, and after barely winning a referendum in 2004 (setting term limits), is up against his toughest opponent. Rolling blackouts, corruption, failing infrastructure, and frustration are giving Mr. Capriles a chance. If Mr. Chavez were to lose, does anyone believe it would be a seamless and peaceful transition? That is not even taking into account the global unrest that could stem from the fifth largest oil producer in OPEC and twelfth largest oil producer in the world losing stability. Approximately 3% of the world's oil that is produced on a daily basis comes from Venezuela.
The election for Chavez's third six year term is slated for October 7. There are polls that have Chavez easily in the lead, some that have the two candidates tied, and even a few that have Mr. Capriles in front. So basically, the polls mean absolutely nothing besides it is a close race. Mr. Chavez nationalized private television stations, and as a result, has unlimited access to the airwaves. The president frequently commandeers all television channels for broadcasts that can last for hours; election rules limit Mr. Capriles to three minutes of pre-recorded campaign broadcasting a day. In the words of Ramón Guillermo Aveledo, secretary-general of the MUD, this election "will be free, but not fair." Could you imagine either President Obama or Governor Romney being on every station for hours at a time?
So whether you agree or disagree with either candidate, be thankful that when you speak your mind that a rock is not being thrown at you or that your car is not on fire. There's a funny FedEx-Kinko's commercial with two candidates taking shots at each other, but through it all, they still shake hands. It doesn't matter how much mudslinging there is going back and forth, or how much you think your candidate will be better for the nation, both Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama are in it to make this nation better.
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