The morning after Hugo Chavez’s death was announced, an article titled "Hugo Chávez: An Appreciation" was one of the most recommended diaries on Democratic grassroots blog site DailyKos.
The exceedingly popular DailyKos is a good metric to check the pulse of the grass roots American left on the issues of the day. That’s because the site is in many senses a democracy, where the number of "recs" or recommendation that any community member’s “diary” receives shows you that a large number of people agree with that author’s sentiments.
As of noon March 6, the article was one of the most popular on DailyKos. It says:
One point that bears repeated emphasis: Despite grossly inaccurate language that will appear in the corporate media--and even by folks on this site who should know better, Hugo Chávez was neither a dictator nor a "strongman," he was the elected President of Venezuela.
The popular DailyKos article quickly brushes off any worry about human rights violations and bares it’s anti-American teeth by making the bizarre claim that America has political prisons.
Human rights in Venezuela, while not ideal, have actually improved under Pres. Chávez, and are better than in many Latin American countries, like Colombia and Guatemala, that are U.S. clients/puppets and whose records never get the same level of scrutiny. Even by the broad definition of political prisoner used by the Venezuelan opposition, there are at most 11 political prisoners in Venezuela. Using the same definition, I feel confident there are at least that many political prisoners right here in the good ole USA.
The author is apparently a former attorney who uses the handle Le Gauchiste (French for “The Left”) and a picture of Lenin as an avatar. He or she is part of the “Anti-Capitalist Meetup” and “Anti-Capitalist Chat” groups on DailyKos. The meetup group states their goal as:
At a time when a third of Americans tell pollsters they have a positive view of Socialism and when most Americans conflate Socialism with anti-capitalism, it's time for the opponents of capital to claim their place at the center of discourse. The committee that organizes this diary is made up of socialists, anarchists, Marxists, unaffiliated organizers and seekers; we all share a commitment to the serious, searing critique of capitalism and that which will replace it. Therefore we invite the curious and those who question in good faith to engage with us in discussion, here and to participate in helping us build an anti-capitalist future.
The article also featured a poll that asked the simple question “Hugo Chavez: Up or down?” As of 12:30 Eastern time, March 6th, “Up” was leading in a landslide, 70% to 30%.