Krauze, Publius, and Gus on Mexico

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Via RealClear Politics is an article that does a good job of summarizing Mexico's history with "democracy" (i.e., representative government), discussing the events leading up to the "contested" election result, and outlining the threat posed by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). I will quote just a few paragraphs here, but I strongly recommend the whole because it paints a damning portrait of AMLO.

On July 2 this same independent electoral organization, made up of 909,575 citizens (not government employees), oversaw an orderly, peaceful election in which more than 41 million people voted. It's important to note that almost a million representatives from all parties participated, as well as nearly 25,000 national observers and 639 international observers. At the end of the day, the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) presidential candidate came away with more votes than any other leftist candidate in Mexican history; in fact, he fell just 240,000 votes short of winning the presidency.


[AMLO] has said that even if there were a recount in 100 percent of the polling places, he wouldn't accept the results if they were not in his favor.

Today, many citizens who voted for Lopez Obrador are not only disappointed but fearful. According to recent polls, the majority of the country disapproves of his actions and supports the Federal Electoral Tribunal's performance. If the presidential elections were held today, Felipe Calderon of the National Action Party would win with 54 percent to Lopez Obrador's 30 percent.


What comes next? If, as is likely, the final ruling of the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary confirms Calderon's victory, Lopez Obrador will do as he has warned: On Sept. 16, Mexico's Independence Day, he'll gather tens of thousands of people in the central square of Mexico's capital to declare him "president" by acclaim. He may even try to control "his territory" in the southern states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tabasco and Guerrero, and the capital itself. His aim for the near future will be to lay siege to the institutions he despises ("let them go to hell," he said recently) and force Calderon to resign.
One thing I would have liked to see in the above analysis is the role of Mexico's current president, Vicente Fox, in allowing this mess to escalate -- something alluded to in commentary by A. M. Mora y Leon at Publius Pundit, who mentions Fox's "wimpiness" particularly when it came time to deliver his state of the nation address a few days ago.
This weekend, there was a very sorry anti-democratic spectacle in Mexico City: President Vicente Fox allowed a claque of leftist congresspeople to take over his podium on the night he was scheduled to give his final state of the union address. They jumped on stage in the dozens, waved leftist banners, and yelled "traitor" and would not let him speak. It was the first time a Mexican president was ever halted from giving his farewell speech.

... Fox, like the wimp that he can be, was unwilling to use force to sweep the angry far-leftist interlocutors (called "ruffians" there) off and deliver his final message to the Mexican people. Fox literally risks his legacy by this somewhat cowardly act.

... Fox's weakness is as much to blame as the left's brazenness - and I suspect that the weaker and wimpier Fox acts to their provocations, the bolder and more outrageous the Lopez Obrador supporters' acts will grow. He's being challenged on democracy and he's pretending it's a traffic accident in his way that's of no concern of his and that the state will go on. He's assuming too much.
How true! And while Mora y Leon notes that there is a "growing trend toward refusal to accept voter rejection" on the part of the left and wonders why this is the case, I think the answer is staring him in the face in the form of AMLO's antics and Fox's appeasement.

The left, as it is today, is the wimpy kid brother of the Islamofascist movement it is so busy trying to keep us from fighting. (And its sympathy and admiration for same resembles that of a pimply-faced adolescent for his prematurely-bearded, delinquent of a brother in more ways than one. But that is a post, perhaps, for another day.)

Like children and Islamofascists (but usually not as brazenly as either), leftists reject the limits civilized behavior place on their actions and, at any moment their more irrational desires are explicitly denied, they will reject any pretense at reason if they think they can get away with it. They may start out, as AMLO did, acting like "democrats", pretending to want to appeal to reason, but that is a ruse designed to avoid the greater effort required by more open defiance. Why fight to establish totalitarian rule if you can trick a majority into voting for it?

(Unlike Mora y Leon, I do not think the collectivist left in general -- or AMLO in particular -- suffers "moral confusion". I think that the left is immoral. Its claim to be "the people" is, when it is out of power, an attempt to enlist support for winning elections. Once it is in power, the claim is clearly meant as a method of intimidation. Both goals are aided by helping as many people forget about individual rights as possible. This is why leftists are particularly big fans of misusing "democracy", which really means "mob rule", in the stead of a more proper description of what we have in America -- a representative, constitutional government that respects individual rights.)

Leftists now see the electoral process not as a means for the body politic to reach the best conclusion in a national debate, but only as a possible means towards acquiring power. This is partly why AMLO ran as a "democrat", why he started ranting about fraud enough in advance to raise doubts in some minds about the outcome (if he lost), and why he is now openly talking about starting a parallel government and "ruling from the streets". As soon as one means of achieving power appeared in jeopardy of not working, AMLO simply moved to another.

But that remains only part of the story. We must think of leftists as children in terms of how they respect the limits of civilized behavior in order to understand how they have gotten as far as they have and how properly to deal with them. What stops, say, a teenager from getting the keys to the car the week after he gets a speeding ticket? A parent's firmness and the fact that his child believes that he will back his words up if necessary. Children test boundaries all the time.

The fact that Fox is a wimp helps explain a lot about AMLO. Mexico held an election and, as far as I can tell, Fox hoped that the electoral commission would save him from having to confront AMLO. Why? Because there is a large enough portion of Mexico's population sympathetic to AMLO's cause (or Fox thinks there is, or Dick Morris told him there is) to function as an appeasing "Mommy".

And so, on the Monday morning before the prom, Daddy politely suggested that little Manuel might need to take Driver's Ed "some time soon" before he'd get to drive again, but failed to say, "or else you're taking a cab to the prom" because, when he was about to, Mommy shot a cross look at him. (Or he thought she did.)

AMLO, sensing that Fox would try to hide behind the electoral court, started raising a ruckus about "fraud" leading up to the election. This is analogous to a kid planning to defy his father with the assistance of his pushover mother: Little Manuel makes a mental note to "forget" to enquire about Driver's Ed until it is too late (defy Daddy), while talking all week about what a great time Mom and Dad had at their prom and how he can't wait to tell his kids about his prom one day (appeal to Mommy). AMLO never meant to honor any electoral result but the one he wanted any more than little Manuel means to take Driver's Ed.

The fraud allegations wore on, resulting in street protests after the result, but before the electoral court ruled that there has been no fraud. And then to PRD's congressional antics before the same court unanimously declared Calderon the winner. And afterwards, who knows?

Likewise, little Manuel's emotional campaign continued as he kept finding new ways to push boundaries. Wednesday, he suggested that he could run a short errand -- using the car, of course -- for Mommy before Daddy got home. She lets him, "as long as you get home before long". He runs another errand Thursday and purposely drives home just as his father returns from work in the other car. He makes a big deal out of how helpful he has been to his mother as he lugs a bag of groceries to the door. He is now basically daring Daddy to tell him not to drive again -- and Daddy has already blinked once.

Mommy has been useless at best so far. This may or may not be because Daddy failed to make his intentions clear to her. But it is clear by now that if Daddy doesn't make a stand, little Manuel is going to drive to the prom in a car without having taken Driver's Ed. Mommy and Daddy will pay the price for their refusal to do what good parents must -- insist that their son behave like an adult.

And so it is with AMLO. The polls cited by Krauze suggest that the Mexican people might stand behind their president if he takes action against AMLO. But suppose a crackdown on this "bloodless (so far) civil war" were unpopular? What if Mommy thinks Daddy is being too harsh on little Manuel?

Who else is going to stop him, then?

The only thing that stops any power-luster or any delinquent from simply running roughshod over others is the risk they calculate of being stopped by force. (Or, if they miscalculate, force.) This is what boundary-testing is all about. This is why AMLO's actions will continue to become more and more outrageous until and unless he is confronted. The sooner Fox -- or Calderon -- wakes up, the better for Mexico's prospects of remaining a republic. Otherwise, the lunacy will go on and on until AMLO gets what he wants.

Mexico looks to this Yankee like it could go either way at this point. There seems a strong desire among the public for rule of law and the improving fortunes that will come with it -- and yet there are many peasants out there who buy AMLO's rhetoric, too. The latter are mostly just ignorant and will be more likely to come around in time as the nation's fortunes improve under a stable government. But until then, they will need Fox (and Calderon after him) to act like a leader -- to demonstrate some confidence that he knows he is right and that what he stands for will be best for them -- rather than wimping out and hiding from them, as if he is the criminal pulling a fast one.

The Daddy in my story can risk temporarily angering his family -- or he can be bought off by emotional blackmail as if his demand that Manuel act like an adult is unreasonable. But if he does, the whole family will pay, perhaps very dearly, for his lack of spine. It is the same for Fox and the Mexican people with respect to their enfant terrible, AMLO.

-- CAV

Note: The post at Publius Pundit features a roundup of commentary on Mexico. Past posts on the subject at this blog appear here, here, here, and here.

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