Tuesday, July 3, 2018

AMLO the Populist

Third time's a charm for Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO).

He ran in 2006 and 2012, and this year he triumphed --- in a landslide. And he's a populist. A leftist populist, but still. It freaks elitist media types out if you're for the common man. It's better if you're a Bernie-style populist rather than a Trumper. But it's still an issue either way.

At LAT, "With Mexico presidential election, another step in global populism — but this time from the left":

The victory of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Sunday’s presidential election in Mexico is yet another advance for the global march of populism, an ideology that feeds on both fear and hope.

In Mexico, however, populism comes with a twist: Lopez Obrador emerges from a leftist tradition in a sea of right-wing tendencies.

From the election in 2016 in the United States of Donald Trump to the rising leaders in Hungary, Italy and other U.S. allies, populism is posing new challenges to modern democracy.

An often anti-intellectual or xenophobic movement, populism capitalizes on existential worries among middle- and working-class populations who see their jobs being lost to technology or to lower-paid workers.

It can offer unrealistic expectations and often stokes people’s fears of immigrants and outsiders, criminals and terrorists, while railing against an ill-defined traditional elite portrayed as callously distant from the concerns of ordinary citizens.

Those touchstones are clearly part of a Trump playbook. Lopez Obrador also appeals to the common man, but his brand of populism does not employ the same level of negativity or tap into racist or nativist beliefs. It remains to be seen how it will evolve.

The underlying call to action in such a climate is to take a sledgehammer to the system, to “throw the bums out,” or, memorably, to drain the swamp.

Like Trump, Lopez Obrador benefited from a strong current of outrage where many voters felt disenfranchised, left out or overlooked.

His campaign rhetoric did not vary much from his earlier runs for president in 2006 and in 2012. He railed against Mexico's elite and the neo-liberal economic policies embraced by Mexico's leaders, but which many feel have left the working class behind.

What was different this time was the mood of the electorate.

“Mexicans are very angry,” said Genaro Lozano, a professor of political science and international relations at the Iberoamerican University in Mexico City.

It’s not difficult to understand why. Violence is at a modern high and fetid corruption infects seemingly every level of the established, sclerotic government. Around half of Mexico’s population lives in poverty, and the country ranks near the bottom of developed nations for social mobility, the chance to get ahead...