AMLO promising like BO?
Back in 2008, we were all amazed at the Obama impact on crowds. I remember an article by Fouad Ajami where he warned us about the crowds:
There is something odd – and dare I say novel – in American politics about the crowds that have been greeting Barack Obama on his campaign trail. Hitherto, crowds have not been a prominent feature of American politics.
We associate them with the temper of Third World societies. We think of places like Argentina and Egypt and Iran, of multitudes brought together by their zeal for a Peron or a Nasser or a Khomeini.
In these kinds of societies, the crowd comes forth to affirm its faith in a redeemer: a man who would set the world right[.] ...
The political genius of the man is that he is a blank slate. The devotees can project onto him what they wish. ...
The day after, the crowd will of course discover its own fissures. The affluent will have to pay for the programs promised the poor[.] ...
[A]s the devotees sustain the candidacy of a man whose public career has been a steady advocacy of reining in the market and organizing those who believe in entitlement and redistribution.
The morning after the election, the disappointment will begin to settle upon the Obama crowd. ... Victory will steadily deliver the sobering verdict that our troubles won't be solved by a leader's magic.
Wow – is he talking about Obama, Andrés López-Obrador, or both?
Down in Mexico, López-Obrador is using the Obama playbook, the game of telling crowds what they want to hear.
My friend Allan Wall compiled this list of "promesas" or promises:
To bring about the Fourth Transformation of Mexico, without violence. (By "fourth transformation," AMLO means after one, Independence; two, The Reform; and three, The Revolution.)
To End corruption.
To establish the "kingdom of justice" upon the earth.
To only earn half the presidential salary of current president Peña Nieto; to not have as president a fleet of planes and helicopters.
In the southern state of Oaxaca, to finish turnpikes to the coast and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and to give teachers a pay raise[.]
AMLO says he won't live in Los Pinos, he will sell the federal government's planes and helicopters, and that high-ranking functionaries will have to get medical attention at ISSSTE, Seguro or Seguro Popular and not private medical care paid for by the government.
The Soconusco region of Chiapas will be one of the most prosperous in Mexico.
To have a government of "republican austerity," which would include lowering the salaries of "those above to increase the salaries of those below." Better salaries would be given to teachers, nurses, doctors, police, soldiers, and government workers. A "government without luxuries." He promises to sell the presidential plane, not to reside in Los Pinos – opening it to the public, to fight corruption, and to improve Mexico's image abroad.
A universal pension for the elderly.
To work closely with the private sector.
To have 4% economic growth.
To invite the Pope, and other religious and social leaders of the world and Mexico, to study and solve the problem of violence in Mexico.
It sure sounds like "we're the ones we've been waiting for" or something like that.
Like Obama 2008, López-Obrador's promises lack specifics.
How is Mexico going to have 4% economic growth unless AMLO attracts foreign investment or privatizes PEMEX?
How is he going to work with the private sector when most businesses are scared to death of what he is campaigning for?
The promises get silly when he plans to cut the president's salary or do away with the planes and helicopters. Is a President López-Obrador going to travel on commercial flights? Seriously, how much money is this going to save?
Increase teachers' salaries? But most Mexican middle-class families send their kids to private schools to avoid the ideology and bad quality of public schools. It would make more sense if he gave poor Mexicans a chance to get out of poverty by attending private schools.
Invite the pope? I'm sure the cartels will be very impressed with that.
Improve Mexico's image abroad? Really? Maybe he can start by making Mexico more hospitable to Mexicans.
It sure reminds me of the Obama crowds of 2008 that the late Fouad Ajami wrote about – especially the part about the coming post-election disillusionment.
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