Why Mexico’s New President Is Nothing Like Trump

When the polls closed in Mexico’s presidential election Sunday evening, the winner by a landslide was Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a socialist reformer and unabashed champion of the working class. It’s a hugely significant turn of events. Since 2000, Mexico has been governed by pro-business technocrats, responsible centrists with economics degrees from Harvard and Yale, leaders with credibility in Washington, reliable partners in free trade and the war on drugs. For the Mexican people the results have been a colossal, gruesome disaster, but it was rare to read anything critical of former presidents Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderón or Enrique Peña Niet
Now all of a sudden the American commentariat are furrowing their brows and wringing their hands, deeply concerned that things might go wrong for our southern neighbor.
The comparison is ridiculous. López Obrador is nothing like Trump. The fretting in the press is a symptom of a political establishment so hopelessly committed to a failed free-market consensus that they can’t distinguish between a moderate democratic socialist and the incipient fascism of Trump’s insane clown posse. López Obrador has been a political figure in Mexico for most of his life, and played an active role in the country’s transition from one-party rule to a reasonably functional democracy. As mayor of Mexico City, he dealt with the nuts and bolts of managing the world’s largest metropolis in a largely apolitical manner, and left office with an 84 percent approval rating. He nearly won the presidency in 2006, and again in 2012, on a platform of putting the needs of the poor ahead of the rich, and denouncing government fraud.

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