Wednesday, June 27, 2012

And the Winner is ...

(Aeromexico Salon Premier, Mexico City Int'l Airport) -- I had originally intended to write a post endorsing a candidate for the Presidency of Mexico, during these, the final days of the campaign.

But instead, I'm simply going to make some observations on the things I've seen.

When I wake up on the morning of July 2, the first song I expect to hear on the radio is Huey Lewis and the News' “Back in Time”, from the Back to the Future soundtrack.

Because barring unforeseen circumstances – like say a meteorite crashing into Mexico, or the Earth inexplicably just up and crashing into the Sun before Sunday – I can say with reasonable certainty that the next President of the nation is Enrique Peña Nieto of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (the Dinosaurs, as they are affectionately known).

And by “reasonable certainty”, I mean I've wagered heavily on this outcome at Caesar's Palace and other Las Vegas casinos.

Yes, the party of the past, the PRI (which ruled Mexico untouched for 70 years) is back.  Let the good times roll!

A number of citizens of this nation have stood up over the course of the campaign to demand change. Specifically, many of them (one vocal group in particular) were calling for two things: 1.) Change; and 2.) Not Peña Nieto.

Yet, polls have been consistent for months. Mr. Peña Nieto has maintained a solid 15-20 point lead in this contest. Sorry, conspiracy theorists, but every single pollster has not been bought by the candidate you hate (who shall remain nameless). One or two? Maybe. But not all.

The trends are clear, whether you will admit them or not.

So what am I to make of the situation in Mexico?

First, I've learned that Mexicans apparently don't mind corruption. It's just not that big a deal to most people. If a candidate promises them free stuff, they will vote for that candidate/party.

And furthermore, corruption is so ingrained in Mexican society (from elected officials to public servants to average citizens), that to change this would require a generational change (or two). Not going to happen overnight, and certainly not going to happen regardless of the occupant of Los Pinos (the Mexican equivalent of the White House).

Furthermore, if you're a politician, the great news is that yes, you CAN still buy votes. Hand out free toasters, t-shirts, coffee mugs, bumper sticker, or home appliances if need be. People will support you.

This campaign has also taught me that while many people may ridicule a certain candidate for being plastic, having perfect hair, being overly stage managed, not so smart, and for having an actress for a wife, an even greater number of people will consider this candidate to be cool BECAUSE of these attributes. Don't believe that? Check the polls.

Also, I've come to realize that steady economic performance – unmatched in Mexican history – doesn't mean much to most voters. To which I say, would you rather have the runaway inflation, massive depreciation in the Peso, and general instability that characterized the presidencies of the PRI? (Notably those of the 1970's thru the 1990's.) Complain all you want about Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon, but during their watch between 2000 and 2012, Mexico has achieved economic results not seen before under the PRI.

And though I could add yet more things, I'll conclude with this (mainly because I've got other things to do).

If you promise people the moon, the stars, and beyond (or in the case of a certain candidate in this election, free education, free homes, free pensions, and end to poverty, and an end to corruption) – and no matter how impossible your promises are in the real world, you will still get a loyal following who don't question your far-fetched claims. Why? Because people want stuff for free (a truism in Mexico as it is elsewhere). Just don't bother them with details of “how” such things will be realized.

Some candidates live in Fantasyland. And apparently the demagoguery of such candidates has its place in Mexico.  But fortunately, it will not win the day on July 1.

And with no more to say, I have a flight to catch.

1 comment:

  1. Great post election review. I have to agree that the past 12 years have been the best years for Mexico in recent history. Economically strong(er), a stable peso, greater freedom and democracy.

    As a foreigner living in Mexico, I could only conclude that Mexicans have their priorities on other matters.