We Venezuelans attend the spectacle of the United States elections as fans without voice or vote who believe that we are playing, firsthand, the possibility of heaven or the continuity of hell. The tense expectation, exacerbated by playing a passive role in a momentous event, has grown more baffling as the ending becomes both unimaginable and dangerous. When the time has come to take on President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, President Donald Trump remains clinging to power and seems unwilling to accept defeat.
Carl Gustav Jung, founder of analytical psychology, offered twelve archetypes for understanding the broad spectrum of human nature. The rebel and the hero models help to understand Trump’s attitude.
The rebel can become self-destructive. His philosophy is that the rules were made to be broken. He is a radical fanatic and sometimes delusional, capable of destroying everything that does not suit him or does not understand, to protect himself from possible threats. His greatest talent is extravagance and language without barriers.
The hero has enormous vitality and stamina and strives to fight for power itself. He prefers anything to losing, something he associates with dying, and he simply refuses to give up.
The fact is that this heroic rebel, who so obsessed Venezuelans convinced that he was the only one capable of handling the strings of our destiny, prefers to turn his defeat into a tragedy with apocalyptic consequences before assuming an electoral defeat.
John F. Kennedy once said: “Victory has a hundred parents, but defeat is an orphan.” This is not always true. Unrecognized defeats have parents famous for the dire consequences of their irresponsibility.
Cicero, the Roman thinker, proposes that “victory is by nature insolent and arrogant.” This is often the case, but defeat can also display overwhelming doses of arrogance, like the menacing vehemence with which Trump blames his country’s electoral system.
Trump exhibits his defeat as a fleeting fantasy based on tricks and tricks. He cannot leave the stage where he has been the center of the show, acting many times as if he were the only candidate. There are those who voted against him and those who voted for him. It was a massive day where low sentiments prevailed, from “I vote for Biden because I despise Trump” to “I vote for Trump because I fear Biden.” Aside from fears and revulsions, when it comes to crushes, Trump has been able to win more hearts, even though Biden has won 5 million more votes.
Montesquieu warned that a people defends its customs before its laws. To a large extent, democracy is based on a culture assumed as its own. So far, the laws have not been violated, only the customs, such as the one that the loser recognizes the evident results by advocating for union and harmony. It seems simple, but it has taken humanity a long time to come to terms with the idea of granting power to an opponent simply because they have won an election.
As Venezuelans well know, a fragile background still persists in this civilized tradition. Those who have pinned their hopes that Trump will make the return of democracy to Venezuela possible must be baffled by his attitude, and efforts to justify it can be painfully acrobatic.
Trump has been genuine in announcing his way of being and thinking. I think it is more translucent than transparent, but no one can deny that it is consistent with his obsessions. He is not a man who denies reality, rather he embodies it in his own way. How to call a liar whoever announces the atrocities he intends to do with repetitive adjectives? His last performance is apotheosis, in the most theatrical meaning offered by the Royal Academy: “Culminating scene that concludes the function and in which the entire cast participates.”
The possible damages from your reluctance are immeasurable. Looking for references, historians can go as far as 1860, when some southern states refused to accept the election of Abraham Lincoln. The consequences were absurd and terrifying. If one asks which is the country where the most American soldiers have died in combat, few imagine that it happened in their own homeland. The approximate figures are 620,000 combatants killed during the Civil War and 644,000 in all other wars where US troops intervened.
Let’s put this extremely pessimistic view behind and review the statements of some Republicans clarifying that Trump will leave and suggesting that he needs time and calm to get over the mourning. This fun and compassionate way of presenting the drama brings us to what is logical to assume: the president is reaching the real bottom of his unreality, understanding that accepting a defeat is not giving up, and that not accepting it is equivalent to dying politically.
Perhaps its great historical contribution may be found within these limits: having demonstrated the fragility and strength of democracy in the United States.
But I don’t want to keep talking like I’m a gringo. I am an almost invisible Venezuelan and extremely useless in the fight to recover your wonderful country. My own ineffectiveness makes me be respectful to those who don’t think like me. The fanaticism of Venezuelans who idolize Trump has its logic. Those of us who have lost so much are looking (in this anxious need I include myself) for a father figure. How can we not be blinded by the possibility that a hero will erase from the face of our country a gang that would have to be defined by inverting Churchill’s famous phrase: “Never was so much owed by so many to so few” O: suffered so many evils at the hands of so few.
The proof that Trump was not the man Venezuela needed now seems to be self-evident. If you hire a lawyer to take a case for you and halfway through the title is taken away, it means that you did not hire the right lawyer. If to this you add that when the lawyer is dismissed he begins to use tactics similar to those of Maduro, there is a lot to swallow, digest and think about.
Before these elections, I was talking with a friend who was celebrating the extraordinary sanctions against Venezuela that Trump imposed. I asked him with excessive reductionism:
“And what use have they been?”
My friend got up from his chair and exclaimed pointing at me with his drink:
“We don’t have gas!”
I replied mercilessly:
“If I have to put up with Maduro, I prefer to do it with a full tank.”
I would like to be less cynical, but I feel that the theory of suffocating the country until the dictator is finished is like killing a snake by the tail. Sanctions may have made us more submissive and primitive, not more rebellious and organized.
I propose a parallel conjecture. Who does Trump want more, the Venezuelans or the Russians? We are going to dedicate 60 seconds to his love for Russians. If it is a matter of favoring them, what better gift than to give them a blocked and exhausted Venezuela so that they can do business with an extremely weak and dependent country? I have no evidence of such nonsense, except the presence in the equation of Trump, a character who has exceeded my capacity for wonder.
Hopefully Trump will grant us some peace to turn the page and sensibly explore in an upcoming essay what we Venezuelans can expect from Biden and what we should propose to him.
Federico Vegas is a Venezuelan architect and writer. His most recent book is the novel The years without judgment