On the EDge: Time for United States to become a good neighbor

Stock images | Photos courtesy of Unsplash, St. George News

OPINION – Despite the historical hoopla and chest thumping, democracy is a fragile thing.

It is not the destiny of all nations and is not the solution for all nations, particularly those that have been under the rule of emirs, kings and strongmen for millennia.

It was tough when the United States broke from the British in 1776 and it is tough for emerging nations today.

Especially Mexico.

Although its 1917 constitution called for democratic institutions, it wasn’t until 2000 that la voz de la gente – the voice of the people – began to be truly heard with the election of Vicente Fox and his National Action Party, which ousted the authoritarian Institutional Revolutionary Party that had manipulated the voting system and dominated Mexico’s government on the national and state levels for seven decades.

Felipe Calderón, another National Action Party politician, succeeded Fox in 2006. His election sparked unchecked violence as he declared war on the drug cartels and his misguided economic policies sent the nation into a financial tailspin. Angry voters went to the polls in 2012 and elected Enrique Peña Nieto, who leaves office this year with approval ratings barely over the 10 percent mark after a tenure marred by scandal and corruption.

It set the stage for the July 1 landslide victory by president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the nascent National Regeneration Movement (Morena Party), a liberal political group that campaigned on the promise of restoring national pride, instituting sound economic principles and restoring trust in government.

He was swept into office with more than 53 percent of the vote, crushing his nearest opponent by more than a 2-to-1 margin.

On election night, he promised voters he would push for a civil relationship with the United States, one “rooted in mutual respect and in defense of our migrant countrymen who work and live honestly in that country” and added that migration should be a matter of choice, not necessity. He promised to “strengthen the internal market to try to produce in the country what we consume and so that Mexicans can work and be happy where they were born, where their family is, where their customs and their cultures are.”

How this will all play out, of course, remains to be seen.

Obrador is a maverick.

He says he will not live in the presidential palace or travel on the presidential plane, which, he says, is now for sale.

He’ll live and move among the common people instead of setting himself apart in regal style, as so many world leaders do.

He promises to cut his salary in half and plans to end pensions paid to former presidents.

He has also promised to reform the constitution to allow sitting presidents to be tried for corruption and electoral fraud.

He has also promised mid-term referendums to allow voters the opportunity to toss out elected officials – including himself – if they are dissatisfied.

Again, we will see how this plays out.

His popularity is growing among Mexicans who have seen how he already has become a target of the White House’s disdain for all things Mexico, earning the racist, stereotypical moniker “Juan Trump” by the president, who has smeared everybody from Hillary Clinton to Marco Rubio to Kim Jung-Un with insulting diminutives.

This will not end well for the United States as the president continues to alienate the nation’s closest neighbors and long-standing allies.

Somewhat cooler heads are prevailing in the State Department where officials are trying desperately to clean up the mess their boss has created.

That’s why Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has already met with Obrador in an effort to instill some calm in the roiling sea of contempt the demand for a border wall and incendiary statements the president has made about Mexico and Mexicans have created.

“We know there have been bumps in the road between our two countries, but President Trump is determined to make the relationship between our peoples better and stronger,” Pompeo told Obrador.

That flies in the face of the “Juan Trump” references, racially charged comments the president has made and the unreasonable demands being placed upon Mexico by the president who has mercilessly bashed the nation.

U.S.-Mexico relations were further strained after a tense telephone conversation between Trump and Peña Nieto when the president insisted that Mexico would pay for a wall along the border and threatened to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement, which most economists have said helps the economies and workers in the United States, Canada and Mexico, and is a policy rooted in the Ronald Reagan administration to eliminate barriers to trade and investment among the three countries.

The rift was so severe that Peña Nieto canceled a visit with the president.

North of the border, there has also been fallout with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the rising trade wars.

North America is clearly not Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood, where our amiable host walked us through life’s challenges and painful issues and frequently placed the focus on brotherhood and peacefully working through anger and anger issues.

North America, particularly the United States, has become a place where anger has prospered and grown; where neighborliness is restricted to those who look, act and subscribe to the same political, cultural and religious strains; where kindness has been replaced by hostility; where hate has supplanted love.

The United States is not setting a very good example of democracy and the freedoms and liberties it entails for its neighbors to the south who are trying to continue the transition.

Good neighbors embrace each other, encourage each other, they don’t covet their successes and demand a piece of their pie.

Good neighbors do not insult each other, devalue each other, look for every advantage over each other.

Good neighbors do not build prohibitive walls to isolate themselves.

Good neighbors know that what is good for the entire community is good for them as well, with success enriching their lives.

It’s time for the United States to become a good neighbor instead of the bully on the block jacking you up for your lunch money.

No bad days!

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • Utahguns July 24, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    …..”Good neighbors have fences and locks on their doors.”
    …..”Good neighbors don’t trespass on your property.”
    …..”Good neighbors respect your rights and possessions.”
    …..”It’s time for America to build the wall.”

    • ladybugavenger July 24, 2018 at 5:15 pm


    • LocalDad July 24, 2018 at 6:23 pm

      At least you used “quotes” lol. Good neighbors communicate in Fox syndicated “sound-bites.”

    • No Filter July 25, 2018 at 7:59 am

      You so funny, you still think a wall will stop people. Drugs and criminals don’t walk across the border, they go through tunnels or in trucks.

      • LocalDad July 25, 2018 at 12:02 pm

        Open boarders for non-drug traffickers will stop drugs. A wall is just a statement. Building it says we’re better than you. Our drugs are coming from Afghanistan and prescribed by doctors. It’s a tiny portion coming from the south. Building a wall is only good for creating jobs and saying we’re better than you.

  • Real Life July 24, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    Are you suggesting open borders Ed? That doesn’t always work.

  • Craig July 24, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    Sorry, Mexico made its own messes. It’s not our fault. But, nice to blame Trump anyway.

    Remember, Obama’s and the others called for border fences until they realized the value of illegal alien votes.

    Trump is doing what’s right. Your heroes just want votes and money and power.

  • LocalDad July 24, 2018 at 6:49 pm

    I’d like to see the pushed in Spanish. It does get the sour taste out of my mouth left from that Trump treason teardown that Ed Kociela wrote a while back but it’s a good start.

    Because, there was no proof of treason, no way for Trump to graceful get gone from that quagmire Mueller shout-casted Trump into in Helsinki, but the rhedoric against our southern neighbors(by extension our local neighbors) has gotten out of hand.

    Trump must have people who noticed how the Obama voters let them suffer so without so much as a mention of the hardship they endure. Well, the rhetoric is hurting my neighbors on a local level. The last school year my child reported back to me that group of children beat a brown boy to bleeding because he would play build-a-wall, because he didn’t speak English, because he still had too much self-worth or something. <- That's what Trump's rhedoric is bringing. Some people understand what I'm saying, to the rest I ask, "what church to you pretend to attend on Sundays?"

    Ex's right and wrong, IMO. Yes there's ugliness but Trump plays to the people, there is a lot of backwards hateful people who also vote. But it's not new. It's not because of the tariffs. The silver lining here is the complacent lefties have a straw-haired straw-man to blame this aweful and long-standing problem on. That's why this article should be linked to in spanish.

  • Red2Blue July 24, 2018 at 8:29 pm

    If you become offensive to your neighbor he/she might move away, and your offenses will be forever remembered by those neighbors left behind. Dont expect a neighborly response in the future from those you insulted unless you ask for forgiveness and get it. Word of mouth catches up and people will see you through the cloud what you did. Always best to get along with neighbors.

  • jaltair July 24, 2018 at 9:06 pm

    Trump needs to tone down his rhetoric. I want to be on his side, but I hope in 2020, someone on the Repub ticket gives him a run.

    He’s a reality TV star, never saw it, I can imagine he plays the POTUS about the same. Everyone loved him, I can’t figure that one out. I did vote for him because I want to see conservative values.

    He needs to be a president who can draw people together and not further divide. He needs to be a model for kids. 2020 is coming fast, but not fast enough!

    • bikeandfish July 24, 2018 at 11:58 pm

      2020 going to be tough. To be honest, I would love to see a traditional Republican run against Trump. Right now we don’t know who will take the DNC ticket, ie a centrist moderate or a candidate further left. Our country is in political shambles and its leaving alot of Americans unhappy with their choices.

      As an Independent I would love to see a thoughtful set of candidates on both sides but I fear we won’t see a meaningful challenge from the right against Trump given the popularity of incumbents and their success rates of reelection. And I think the DNC will elect an establishment name with too much baggage or someone way too far left to attract enough votes. If that happens we have a Trump slam dunk and he has four years extra with no concerns of popularity and precedent. That is a scary thought.

      Our federal government is currently a slow-burning dumpster fire. And I fear its only going to get worse for the foreseeable future.

  • dodgers July 24, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    Mexico hasn’t been a very good neighbor, enabling a steady flow of drugs and illegal crossings of our border. If Mexico was a good neighbor in our community, they would clean up their backyard first. Get rid of their violent gangs, drug cartels and corruption, just for starters. Be a bit more neighborly.

  • John July 24, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    Ed wouldn’t know a FACT if it hit him in the face..Total uninformed leftist garbage is all the moron can write! HE SHOULD CHANGE HIS BONG WATER!

  • mesaman July 24, 2018 at 9:56 pm

    Hey, or ola, Mr Ed, ever hear of drug trafficking and the reign of drug lords in Mexico? Ever hear of corrupt officials, including law enforcement, and the paths that lead into the US from Texas, to California? Want to be a good neighbor? Move back to Baja.

  • utahdiablo July 24, 2018 at 10:26 pm

    We’ve been too kind of a neighbor these past 35 years, as from Regan’s Amnesty in 1986, we now have 11 – 20 Million illegal aliens here in the USA, and now Obrador want to look at legalizing all drugs in Mexico to save the money spent to combat drugs to be used elsewhere in Mexico, so yes, this guy is in the tank for the drug cartels.. “The government could save huge amounts of money if it gave up trying to enforce drug laws” & “By stopping the drug war, efforts and resources could be reoriented toward pursuing crimes that actually affect the Mexican population, like extortion, kidnapping, rape, etc., instead of victimless crimes like drug possession or transportation of drugs (which is most often geared toward moving drugs out of the country),” ….Nope, we’ll build the Wall and keep these “guests” out

    • bikeandfish July 24, 2018 at 11:50 pm

      I also think there are massive holes in Ed’s argument regarding our national relationship with Mexico. That said, the quote you provided is not from the President-elect Obrador but from Professor Lajous. Obrador has allegedly supported wode-ranging conversations regarding drug law, enforcement and relevant violence but isn’t cited as supporting the solution you qouted.

      I am curious, if we are sincerely interested in curtailing the worst influences on our southern border than how does Trump’s rhetoric help? I think most of us know this is the worst we have ever seen relationships between North American countries in a long time. How does that solve the problem?

  • Ladyk July 24, 2018 at 11:56 pm

    If anyone knows about alienating his neighbors, it would be you Ed.

  • commonsense July 26, 2018 at 5:32 am

    Robert Frost nailed it: “good fences make good neighbors”.

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