Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Icons of Santiago

La Tercera publishes a nice list of Santiago's top 50 iconic things, everything from La Moneda to a lomito.

In case you were thinking of visiting.

Coming to grips with reality

A week after election day in the US and there are more and more signs that the Republicans know they must ditch the crazy, populist, dumbed-down version of conservatism that was the Tea Party and return to a principled, intellectual conservatism that at least stands a chance of appealing to more than a group of retired white Church ladies from Omaha. Today's Politico has a piece on Bobby Jindal saying just that.

Another aspect of reality has to do with listening to dissenting voices and understanding that criticism is not treason. There have been reports that the Romney campaign simply didn't believe the poll numbers and chose to believe outliers like Gallup.

There are some parallels, as usual, with Chile, which I point out here. In highly polarized societies people don't want to be challenged by views which differ from their own. Each side operates in its own reality and has little contact with the outside world. Such it was with the recent electoral results in places like Providencia, where the mayor was so convinced he would win, he did not see the demographic changes taking place right before his eyes. He saw no need to campaign as hard as his opponent or to show up to televised debates. He lost.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Deep Thoughts for Elections Day

Inevitably, attention gets shifted towards the EEUU today, even in Chile (although government officials here keep honking their own horns about how FABULOUS yesterday's cabinet shuffle was, but that's another kettle of blogs).

So, in keeping with our good relations with our hemispheric overlords, here are some Deep Thoughts for Election Day:

1) The closeness of the race has been one of the stories of this campaign. But this is a function of just how divided the country is. Obama was supposed to bridge some of the divisions of the Bush years. Didn't happen. Perhaps the greatest of the unkept promises of his Great Promise.

2) Watch for how different constituencies behave. If the minorities continue to vote en masse for the Democrats, this will contribute even more to the country's historic divisions. While this is obviously true for the afro-american and latino communities, it will be interesting to see if the jewish community sticks with Obama. And what happens with women. This leaves...

3) The Republicans as the last, great, white hope. Much ink has been spilled on the Republicans demographic problem: that the country no longer looks like the constituency they appeal to. If they lose,  will they branch out to seek more voters, or retrench with lots of guns into their bunker in Alabama? In other words....

4) What happens to the Tea Party? Is it the future or the undoing of the Republican Party? Clearly the party has been taken over by the right - even though Romney represents the middle. Will a loss convince party elders that they need to take back the party from the Tea Party, or will they conclude that the problem was choosing a centrist candidate?

5) What happens if it is really, really close? I am talking, Florida 2000, or worse. There is no doubt in my mind that if the Republicans feel the election has been stolen from them, they won't take it as easily as Gore did in 2000. It could be uglier than anything we have seen so far.

6) What happens in Congress? It seems that the Democrats will keep the Senate. This is important for Obama, but crucial if Romney wins. It is in Congress where we will also be able to measure how successful the Tea Party has been.

7) How will the markets react? No joke. They don't like Obama.