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Mexico's curse of the left

By A.M. Mora y Leon*

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, still refusing to concede the July 2 election
Source: Agencia EFE, via Yahoo! Mexico

Originally published 03.09.06 | A Spanish newspaper today warned that Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who refuses to concede the election he lost last July 2, is gravely abusing not only Mexico’s democracy, but the left cause itself.

El Pais writes that Lopez Obrador is doing incalculable damage to Mexico’s institutions, his own political viability in the future as a candidate and will likely lead the progressive cause itself toward oblivion. AMLO, the paper writes, is increasingly is “a prisoner of his own resentment.”

What is it about the left that makes it so accursed? Why can’t there be a responsible left, as there once was with the Franklin Roosevelt administration or under Willy Brandt or Pierre Trudeau or Sunny Jim Callahan? Why aren’t there more graceful people on the left, like the economist in Costa Rica who lost out to Oscar Arias in the election this year?

Instead, there’s nutroots on the Internet, Bush Derangement Syndrome, and guys like Al Gore and John Kerry and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador - insisting that elections they lost were stolen from them.

Gore and Kerry, to their credit, made peace with the electoral realities in Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004 and spared the U.S. a crisis. But that growing trend toward refusal to accept voter rejection is probably significant.

In Mexico, we have a real problem with the far left that won’t accept the verdict of the voters. It’s beginning to trigger instability.

Why is this happening? Part of it is that the left doesn’t see itself as just one philosophical tendency toward greater government intervention, which technically describes it, and instead sees itself as something else - the embodiment of the people itself. It sees no separateness between itself and the people it claims to represent, even though they are different.

Therefore, in the Left’s mind, any rejection from the people would be not a message to fine-tune their leftist program into something more palatable to voters, but an assault on their very identity. Because remember, the left has delusions that is not only represents the people but IS the people. So any rejection by the voters could only be fraud.

It never occurs to a far-leftist that maybe voters don’t like their ideas. This is one of those things they cannot internalize. Anyone who criticizes them is dismissed as a hopeless oligarch and traitor to his class, or - depending how totalitarian - in need of some kind of destruction. This is a major political character flaw.

The Spanish newspaper warns that AMLO in Mexico will destroy the left; presumably making it marginal and detested, a perpetual protestor and fringe player, kind of like the Zapatistas currently are. And the masses of voters will run from them like the plague.

President Vicente Fox delivers his speech to Congress after he was held off by leftist legislators from presenting it to the nation
Source: Mexico’s Office of the President

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.’ It was the first time a Mexican president was ever halted from giving his farewell speech.

Leftist lawmakers prevent Vicente Fox from making his final state of the union speech
Source: Associated Press, via Yahoo! Mexico

Banana-republicly, they refused to listen to the verdict of the electoral tribunal, which announced earlier last week that there was no systematic fraud in Mexico’s election and clung to their own unproven emotional beliefs, based on no facts, that there really was fraud.

And Fox, like the wimp that he is, 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. He literally risks his legacy by this cowardly act.

What a sorry spectacle for Mexico’s democracy! 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 their acts will grow.

These acts so far are symbolic ones - a stage, after all is just a symbol and Fox could just put his speech on the Internet. But symbols mean things. AMLO insists that his protests are all just peaceful protests, nothing illegal, even though they are a tremendous imposition, clog the streets of the capital, and prevent poor people from going to work. AMLO sees it as his right to do this, to turn Mexico City into Tent City, and make his displeasure with the result known - presumably until he can take the presidency.

This is where it gets dangerous.

An AMLO supporter on the night leftist legislators blocked President Fox’s national address
Source: Cronica

Besides confusing oneself with the masses, the left has a second curse: the Totalitarian Temptation. There’s a dangerous continuum from democratic left to communist, that other political philosophies don’t have. Democratic leftists will insist that they are just nice socialists, and some are, but they get cold feet when it comes time to separate themselves from totalitarians. That’s why Democrat congressmen and western leftist academics rarely will condemn Fidel Castro, for instance, even though he has the most odious human rights record in the entire hemisphere. They have trouble doing it because there is an ideological affinity that blinds them to what should be a strong demarcation between democracy and tyranny. This, by the way, is one reason why Michelle Bachelet of Chile is so remarkable - she grew up in a real totalitarian-left family but managed to turn that background into her own democratic-left persona, with a very clear favor for democracy. She discarded only the tyranny aspect of her background, not the things she valued about being on the left, and became a bonafide democrat of incandescent credibility. But many cannot do that - perhaps because they consider themselves “the people,” as described above.

Because the left can occupy either democratic government, or totalitarian rule, democracy under the left is vulnerable to sliding into tyranny, and moral confusion can be the result.

Nowhere is that better embodied than in Mexico, halfway between the third world and the first, where AMLO nearly won the election as a democratic leftist, but now is rapidly turning into a destroyer of democracy, and starting to show a totalitarian face.


An AMLO supporter waves signs calling President Vicente Fox a “traitor”
Source: Agencia EFE, via Yahoo! Mexico

No more will he accept the will of the voters! Now he will just say he is the people and take the office of president by force! This is a perfect instance of how a moderate leftist can slide into a totalitarian tyrant, and justify it in his own mind.

Fortunately, he hasn’t taken power yet, but less fortunately, he intends to do so - and by any nonelectoral means necessary. Some of his supporters are threatening violence, even though he says he will stay peaceful. One news editoral speculates that Lopez Obrador will follow the Evo Morales model of Bolivia, wearing people down by constant protests until they vote him in out of disgust. There could be other awful ways he takes power as well. Meanwhile, the troops are out, creating a very un-pacific atmosphere.

Mexican troops and police guard the Congress amid unrest
Source: El Universal

The kind of people who could be uniquely helpful in Mexico are those who’ve gone through close or bad calls with grace and dignity - perhaps soccer players who’ve had championships robbed of them by bad calls, or even Al Gore - and who could talk some sense into Lopez Obrador. He needs to realize that he’s not only damaging the cause of democracy by his refusal to concede the election, but his own cause himself. Will he have that kind of self-preservation? I hope so.

Some blog thinking…

Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit has a good roundup with lots of different photos here.

Mark at Mark in Mexico warns that AMLO is busy praising anarchy in this post here.

Boz at Bloggings by Boz has an intriguing counteranalysis, suggesting that this whole sorry spectacle may ultimately be a good thing for AMLO, given that he needs to show his supporters he won something for all their summerlong efforts in the tent camp - a must-read here.

David Sasaki and maybe others at Global Voices have a good assortment of Mexican blogosphere thinking in the runup to the Sept. 1 showdown on the right column of the page here.

Randy Paul at Beautiful Horizons thinks AMLO should pack it in and find a constructive way to act as opposition and improve the whole setup in this tart post here.

UPDATE: McKreck of Occidentality has by far the most challenging and best-written analysis of this election I’ve seen so far, anywhere, it’s a must-read here.

*Source Publiuspundit

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