New President in Mexico Could be Gamechanger

Source: Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

New Orleans      AMLO as Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is known, has been elected president of Mexico by a wide margin with his new party promising to end violence and corruption and run the government on a progressive platform.  Not only did Obrador win, but his coattails also are carrying his new party into office in several states and into a stronger position in the Mexican Congress.   His victory promises huge changes in the political and economic culture in Mexico and could reverberate to the benefit of the United States as well.

Despite news reports to the contrary, Obrador is not the Mexican Trump.  He is an experienced politician and former mayor of Mexico City.  He has also been a contender in previous elections, losing narrowly several years ago in an election his supporters still believe he won.

The only passing comparison to Trump might be the fact that he is disrupting the normal political class in Mexico, but in his case, it is avowedly for the common people of Mexico rather than the entitled and long-standing elites.  He campaigned aggressively on a progressive and reform platform.  In his victory speech Obrador couldn’t have been more inclusive saying,

“I call on all Mexicans to reconciliation, and to put above their personal interests, however legitimate, the greater interest, the general interest.  The state will cease to be a committee at the service of a minority and will represent all Mexicans, rich and poor, those who live in the country and in the city, migrants, believers and nonbelievers, to people of all philosophies and sexual preferences.”

He has promised to help farmers who have been hard hit, driving some of the migration pressure at the United States border.  He has promised to raise pensions for workers.  He has promised to review oil and other public contracts that have been sources of inefficiency and corruption and to fund some of his programs with the money saved from eliminating corruption.

As a progressive on the left, Obrador is already been baited by business interests invested in the status quo claiming he would be a Mexican version of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, but there is little evidence that this would be the case from his record.  The very huge size and scale of the country and its economy also means that using oil wealth as Chavez did, will not be possible in Mexico.  On the left, there are concerns that he has promised too much.  Sounds like he is in perfect position.

Who knows how deeply President Trump and his advisors understand this.  Hopefully they will not divert the hope here with ridiculous proposals for Mexico to pay for Trump’s folly, the border wall.  Regardless, the rest of us will have our fingers crossed that Obrador can turn the ship of state in the direction he has pledged.  A healthier and more equitable and secure Mexico is not only good for Mexicans but vitally important to the United States.

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Please enjoy Stop this War by At Pavillon.

Thanks to KABF.

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Contradictory Readings in the Tea Leaves

Sheridan          It’s a tough time to be a commentator, pundit, or general political wizard.  It must be like walking a tightrope.  They know it’s scary when they start walking the wire and have to wonder if they’ll made it to the other side.

Take for example a long piece in the press about the continuing popularity of Senator Bernie Sanders and the nonexistent coattails his candidates have shown in recent elections, including the fact that only about 40% of Our Revolution picks have prevailed.  Days later I’m talking to friends in the Bay Area and a Sanders star and Richmond Progressive Alliance stalwart is giving long time Democratic Obama and Clinton operative Buffy Wicks a wild run for her money in a state assembly race.  Given Wicks refusal to endorse the statewide ballot initiative allowing cities wider discretion over rent control, that hot button issue could be her undoing.

An even bigger hole was punched in the “conventional wisdom” when Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, a 28-year old former Sanders organizer in Queens and the Bronx, upset the 10-term Congressman Joseph Crowley, the fourth ranking Democrat in the US House leadership who coveted a shot a being Speaker and upsetting Nancy Pelosi if the Democrats win control in the midterms.  Not only was Cortez advocating single payer health but she called for dismantling the entire Immigration and Customs Enforcement apparatus going to the heart of the beast.

A chart in the Times also measured increased voter turnout by Democrats so far in elections in twenty key Congressional districts that could flip the House.  Before the celebration starts while the game is still underway, it is worth noting that the increased turnout is lower than what the Republicans registered when they wrested control in 2010 in rebellion against Obama.

And, that’s the problem if “premature certainty” creeps in now when the tea leaves are so muddled.  Take immigration where the hard line and hard-hearted Trump-Sessions hateration and escalation on the border and its policy of family separation and child incarceration drove a wedge through the right and united the American people in drawing a line on fundamental values.  A poll cited by the Washington Post is a good example of the perils of prediction:

A new Economist/YouGov poll showed that 54 percent of Americans disapprove of separating families who cross the border illegally. But only 19 percent support “releasing the families and having them report back for an immigration hearing at a later date” — the approach now endorsed by every single Senate Democrat. By contrast, the poll found the most popular policy — supported by 44 percent of Americans and even 49 percent of Democrats — is “holding families together in detention centers until an immigration hearing at a later date.” And it found that 46 percent also support Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy of arresting and prosecuting anyone who crosses the border illegally.

See what I mean.  Politics is not simply a blunt instrument swinging one direction.  We can’t hope to win only talking to ourselves.  It must drive the pundits crazy, but for the rest of us, it’s a reminder to look before we leap and make sure we have people behind us before we jump.

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