OPINION – Now is the summer of Mexico’s discontent.
The sun is hot and the air thickly humid, soured by the anger of leftist voters who say, for the second time in as many presidential elections, that their candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, was robbed.
It makes me wonder what the mood will be in the U.S. the morning of Nov. 7 after voters exercise the vote. Will we even know who won, and if so, will there be an effort to exorcise the results, like what is taking place here in Mexico right now?
Mexico has a long tradition of voter unrest. The anger this time is matchstick hot because Enrique Peña Nieto, representing the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was declared the winner. The PRI, which ruled Mexico for 71 years, was tossed from power a dozen years ago in what was described by many as a purging of the corruption, patronage, and vote fraud that dominated the nation for most of the 20th century.
The election must still be certified in September by Mexico’s federal electoral tribunal. A change in the outcome, however, is unlikely. Six years ago when Felipe Calderón, representing the conservative National Action Party, defeated López Obrador, the announced margin was by less than 1 percent, yet his victory was upheld. Ten days ago, López Obrador lost by 6.6 percent.
There are two levels of discontent here, the first being that the PRI is back at the political helm, the second that Peña Nieto was swept to office by buying votes and controlling parts of the media. Yellow gift cards to a local grocery store chain bearing the logo of a pro-PRI union were distributed to thousands of voters throughout the nation in advance of the election. Protesters also say that besides payoffs to the media, there were also ballot shortages in many key locations.
It resulted in many of them taking to the streets in large numbers last weekend. Tens of thousands filled the plaza in Mexico City. Thousands more gathered in Oaxaca, and they even protested in large numbers in tourist spots like Puerto Vallarta and here in Cabo San Lucas. The protests were organized through Facebook, Twitter, and activist blogs on the Internet and were comprised mostly of young people and members of the working class.
The situation in Mexico, where revolution played a major role in politics until 1940, remains tense.
The situation in the U.S., now that it’s clear that President Barack Obama will be challenged by Mitt Romney, is also tense, and we’re not even into the meat of the political season, which won’t occur until after Labor Day. Just take a walk through your Facebook page, your Twitter account, or type in either candidate’s name in a Google search and you will see what I am talking about. It’s vicious out there. I mean, just today, I saw comments posted comparing the president with Adolf Hitler. I have seen equally appalling comments made about Romney.
You can attack their ideas, their political persuasion, their plans, their actions, but, do you really see Obama equating to Hitler or Romney equating to Satan? If so, I suggest you check your brain into rehab somewhere. I think I would rather see people marching in the streets in thoughtful, meaningful protest than fouling the air with vile, untrue attacks. One is a display of passion and conviction, the other a bitter, petty expression of ignorance. I’m not quite sure which side drew first blood, but the fight is on and they are not observing the rules of the Marquis de Queensbury. A lot of below-the-belt punches have already been thrown by supporters of both men.
Take a look at most of the media around you, where truth is a rare commodity and corporations and their executives are trying to tilt the vote. I have plenty of examples.
Besides, this looks like it may be the most expensive campaign in the history of politics, which means we will be drowning in all of the mudslinging by Election Day. I mean, we’ve barely gotten beyond the Fourth of July and already the airwaves, particularly on the East Coast, are being bombarded with Romney ads.
You won’t see much of that in Utah and probably none in St. George, where because of his heritage and family roots Romney will take, I would wager, at least 75 percent of the vote.
But elsewhere it will be much tighter.
In fact, there’s a very good chance we may see Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts cast the final vote of the 2012 presidential election.
Now, that would be a reason to take to the streets.
No bad days!
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Copyright 2012 St. George News.