Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Why is Lopez Obrador doing what he is doing?

Jose Blanco had an opinion piece in La Jornada titled, "What are AMLO's objectives?. I don't see it as a very insightful piece, perhaps because my Spanish is so imperfect. Still, it seems petty at this stage to, for example, quibble over whether there were 35,000 or 55,000 compromised precincts. The answer to that, I am pretty sure, is that the greater number show possible evidence of tampering, while the lesser show probable evidence of tampering. And an even smaller number show inarguable evidence of tampering, like precinct 2227. But the questions that the title suggests are ones worthy of consideration. Politics is, and always has been, a messy combination of striving toward principled goals and opportunistic exploitation of events to gain the power to be able to achieve goals (not to mention personal enrichment and other arts exemplified by the modern Republican Party). The only problem is when there is an open contradiction between the stated goals and the actions. Like, when the Democrats say they are the party of the people and then intervene in the Lieberman, Hackett, Cegelis, and Lentz races to make sure that the will of the citizens of those states is not done. So why, wonders Blanco, would AMLO follow a two-track strategy of, on the one hand, challenging the legality of the election process and of the process of vote counting through the courts while simultaneously deploying a strategy of social pressure on those courts? It's a reasonable question to ask, but unlike Blanco, I see the answer as fairly obvious. The Mexican political process, like the American, is structurally awful in that the electronic media are controlled by the wealthier segment of the population. Lopez Obrador was smeared as a crazy leftist and had no means to reply, just as John Kerry, the war hero, was smeared by the Swiftboaters, and Al Gore was smeared as "Ozone Man" (and far worse). In both countries, there is an additional structural flaw that has taken a long time to seep through dense psychological mechanisms of denial: the bodies supposed to regulate the electoral process are infested with cronyism. In the US, it's voting machine companies with a political attitude and corrupt Secretaries of State. In Mexico, it's the control of social programs by partisans, cronyism in the software industry, and local power brokers. Mexico is headed quickly toward a breakdown of civil order, perhaps even civil war. How can this be avoided? One wise suggestion is that the parties could agree to have a two-way runoff between Lopez Obrador and Calderon, one likely to produce a clear result. But this would be intolerable if it happened in an atmosphere of smears, voter intimidation, and ballot box stuffing. Both sides would have to take a step away from confrontation and wage instead a campaign based on a higher vision. This can only happen if the smears, voter intimidation, and ballot box stuffing are denounced publicly and universally. That's where one track of Lopez Obrador's strategy is heading: to the Election Court to document the abuses and to the Supreme Court to deliver a rebuff so profound that no party will be tempted to steal an election again. But where's the upside to Calderon to have a full examination of the election? Isn't every incentive for him to avoid a searching examination? So, the only way to get to the morally just outcome is to provide Calderon an incentive to deal through social pressure. Furthermore, if done in the nonviolent style of Martin Luther King, it could be an opportunity to elevate the understanding of the dispossessed of Mexico. The terrible fact of Mexico is that the dispossessed do not feel in any way part of the political system. They are foreigners in their own land, coping with economic forces they can neither influence nor even fully comprehend. A nonviolent campaign could bring together Mexicans of different social classes and ethnic roots into a classroom, a classroom to discuss Mexico's future. For so long, Mexico has lived as a subordinate, in the shadow of the United States. It is long past time for it to enter the community of nations as a full partner. But it can only do so if it leaves behind the master and servant relationships inherited from colonial Mexican society. I do not say that Lopez Obrador is Lazaro Cardenas. But with a little help, he could be.
Hey Charles, you might want to check out this Kos diary, if you haven't seen it already:


Seems as if the independent observers aren't so happy...sorry I don't have a moment to follow up on it right now.
Thanks for the heads-up, Richard. I don't follow Kos, so I'm glad others do.

This story is of one independent observer (almost certainly not an official observer), one polling place, no obvious illegality, but not enough ballots. In context, it's relevant, but only because there were other precincts where people were prevented from voting by essentially foreseeable circumstances.
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