Chile votes itself a one-way ticket to communist hell

Here's a terrible story out of Chile that bodes ill for its status as Latin America's wealthiest country and biggest success story.

According to Reuters:

Chile's center-right ruling coalition suffered a shock loss on Sunday night after failing to secure a critical one-third of seats in the body that will draft the country's new constitution.

With 90% of the votes counted, candidates backed by President Sebastian Pinera's centre-right Chile Vamos coalition had won only a fifth while independents picked up the most votes. New proposals will require two-thirds approval and without a third of the delegates, the government will struggle to block radical changes to the constitution unless it can forge new alliances.

The result and defeats for Chile Vamos candidates in mayoral, governatorial and municipal elections held at the same time bode ill for the ruling coalition ahead of general and presidential elections in November.

The numbers lineup is even worse than Reuters reported: 

CNN's local channel in Chile projected independents would win 45 seats, Chile Vamos would gain 39, the centre-left 25, the far-left 28 and a small coalition would take one seat. Seventeen seats have been reserved for members of Chile's indigenous communities who are not mentioned in the present charter.

That's the rabid and supposedly not-so-rabid left taking 53 seats out of 155 total.  What does that mean?  I am not a big watcher of Chilean politics, based on the paucity of news here, but here is a first draft round of what I so far know:

Far-left Chileans don't even try to disguise who they are as they do over here; they enjoy advertising themselves as full-blown Castroite communists, all truth in advertising.

That leaves the regular left, and I suspect that all of their claims of being sane leftists is pure window dressing.  Based on what we are seeing now in our own Congress, left is left, and all of the left is rabid-left with only an occasional Joe Manchin in the mix.

The right is barely there, even in the Chile Vamos mix.  Unfortunately, they are what you would call RINOs, always a losing formula.  Their emblem is President Sebastián Piñera, a cordial conservative who often, but not always, does the right thing.  The people I can't see are the true free-market conservatives, the people who made Chile's free market reforms happen, not just in Chile's stellar rule of law (and high ratings on the corruption perceptions index), but all of the prosperity that followed, leading Chile straight into the First World that followed.  Could they be buried within the independents?  The free-marketers can be a prickly purist bunch, so it's possible but probably dubious.  More likely, the independents are unadvertised leftists and low-information voters who don't understand ideas and therefore are easily rolled by the left.  It's scary, what we are seeing, given that this is about rewriting the constitution, which is the foundation for Chile's rise to the top.

The Reuters explainer of the mechanics of this is very good, as is its coverage.  I'd give them credit just for covering the story.

But there are frustrating bits of misinformation within it, such as its labeling the perfectly good current constitution of Chile the "Pinochet era" constitution, which is utterly misleading for two reasons — one being that the constitution was a document worthy of our Founding Fathers, an utterly fair and law-oriented free market–friendly document, in stark contrast to the country's hideous communist past (Salvador Allende, taking orders from Castro himself, the Soviets, and the North Koreans) that immediately preceded it.  It was, after all, a document to get the country out of its authoritarianism of the Pinochet military government, not more military government, and into freedom.  Two, it was amended, again and again, by the center-left governments that followed them, most of them not that bad.

Now they're going to throw that out and have some leftists rewrite the constitution to their specifications — free education, free health care, free child care, free everything, nobody has to work.  Memo to Joe: Don't expect any more of those lithium batteries you've been counting on to achieve your green new deal.  The Reuters explainer says the availability of lithium, upon which Chile holds a sizable unignorable share, is gonna change.  No more private pensions, which is the crowning glory of Chile's rise to prosperity and the reason for its vast pool of capital upon which its vast skyscrapers and long desert roads are constructed.  Its education, its entrepreneurs, its huge middle class — they are all products of this particularly brilliant reform, introduced by José Piñera, Sebastián's smarter older brother.

They've had those pensions in their gunsights for several years now, even doing creepy, bizarre protests from time to time over them.  They were protesting this idea that people can establish personal savings accounts and choose their own dates for retirement.  If this rewritten constitution goes through, it's likely that's going to go, with everyone taking a state pension now as the state bureaucrats determine and special interests getting extra.  As for the little guy, it will be paid with a devalued currency, just as we are seeing here in the States as Democrats spend up a storm and turning on the printing presses and devaluing our money, introducing inflation as the final result.  That's going to happen in Chile, too, and most certainly already happened, hugely, under Allende.  There's no communist who can defy this iron law of economics.  The pensioners who saved are going to get shafted, and the young people who would like to save are going to be told "no."

What happened?  How could something so good be so rejected by voters?  My first question is whether there was fraud, which I have no idea about, but based on what I know, I think it was unlikely.  Chile's not a fraudy place, like some of its neighbors who know who they are.

What I think happened, based on my two trips to Chile, is that voters got used to being prosperous.  After that, they took their prosperity for granted and assumed that it would always be there, Chile a nation of exceptionalism. 

Leftists, meanwhile, in the last twelve or so years, got very, very busy.  As with here, they started by getting the kids.  And sure enough, Castro himself was involved, with photogenic student leaders accompanied by a gushing press paying visits and tributes to the old ogre in Havana.  These student leaders and vaunted leaders of the future also praised the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez, despite the shambles that country was becoming even then.  And Pinochet?  Instead of understanding who he was, they demonized him all the louder.  By last year, the far left was rampant, engaging in Antifa-style violent smoky protests, with a special yen for trashing and burning churches, openly imitating what the Bolsheviks pioneered.

The academic community was absent, focused on tech and business education, or else letting wokesters do their indoctrinating.  The kids were indulged and cosseted, and learned nothing of the stunning, stellar history of Chile in the late 20th century and why it got that way.

When I visited Chile around 2012 as an editorial writer for Investor's Business Daily, I was taken to the Catholic University in Santiago, the country's top university.  That was once the home of many prominent academics and students in economics, who eventually became the Chicago Boys.  The Chilean officials I spoke with were cordial enough and showed a group of us journalists the university's many innovations.  They were impressive.  But I made sure I looked around for myself, too, and I asked the officials afterward — as long as you are going to talk to us about Chile's exports to the world, its many innovations, where are the busts and paintings of Chile's Chicago Boys, who are renowned and imitated the world over?  They had no answer for me.  It was an uncomfortable silence.

In Chile's public squares, particularly one near the Chilean presidential palace, one can see busts of Salvador Allende in the vicinity — but none honoring the Chicago Boys.  Yet the Chicago Boys are the ones who laid the groundwork for Chile's prosperity. 

All that was left was wokesterism, and a friend on the left, a hard variety of it even though he is intellectually honest, Marc Cooper, has remarked that deep down, he thinks all Chileans are communists.

This, right or wrong, shows how badly the message of how free markets work, never got across.  And then with time passing, the memory of how bad communism is faded, as a new generation arose, educated only by the left.

Actually, I've met some rock-solid conservatives in Chile, not just among academics and pols, but out on the streets, too, among shopkeepers, hotel keepers, restaurateurs, etc.  They remember how bad it was, but for others, memories faded.  And more to the point, there was insufficient political organizing on the conservative right.

Meanwhile, some problems seen in the constitution were probably only amplified: there does seem to be crony capitalism linked to politics there, with Sebastián Piñera himself, owner of Chile's leading airline stock and other big corporate interests — he's a billionaire — being part of the problem. 

These things, however, can be reformed without knocking the foundation out.  Now leftists are on the rise, and we are going to see how fast downhill things can go should they have their way.  There is a ray of hope, though, that the groups involved in this cannot agree satisfactorily.  If that happens, then the old constitution is reverted to, according to the Reuters explainer.  Then catastrophe is averted.

What it underlines, for Chileans and for us, is that Chile needs a Trump.  When soggy RINOs here say that the GOP needs to get rid of Trump and carry on with conservatism without him, as the far left does its thing, Chile is a cautionary tale for us about just what can happen.

Image: Nicholas Raymond, via FlickrCC BY 2.0 and creator-requested link (broken), CC BY-SA 3.0.

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