“The only constant in life is change” (Heraclitus, Greek philosopher, 500 BCE).The wisdom of the Greeks might be of use today.As we are “alone, together,” during this time of CV-19, when time seems to stand still, we might reflect on what will stay the same—and what will change.
In politics, as in other aspects of life, we can expect the unexpected. Some things will undoubtedly change in radical ways. Bill Maher asks the question: “what if Trump, defeated in November, refuses to vacate the White House? Others suggest, as an “urgent matter of public health and national security,” Trump do the honorable thing and resign now (Chris Hayes, MSNBC). Both those things are possible, even if not probable.
Two other things are possible: Trump could defy the odds, the current statistics and squeak by (with the help of gerrymandering and further voter suppression), leading to four more years of grifting, even flirting with treason. So far, not even a diplomatic slap at Putin for his alleged order to pay bounties for the killing of U.S. soldiers; Trump has done nothing about it.
Or, Vice-President Biden could become President. Then, if (always “if”) both House and Senate become Democratic, U.S. health policies and Social Security will be protected, and some of Trump’s anti-environmental policies undone. Who knows? Stay tuned. And participate, vote!
In our sister Republic, Mexico, also expect the unexpected. The fate of Mexico’s President Andrés Manuél López Obrador (AMLO) hangs in the balance. Mexico just last year instituted a change in the Constitution; voters could be allowed on March 21, 2021, to “retain” or “remove” the President, mid-term. The normal term for Mexican politicians is six years—a “sexenio”; AMLO began his presidency in 2018 (Reuters, 15 Oct 19).
AMLO began with mass appeal, his party, MORENA, winning 53 percent of the vote (in a 60 percent turnout), climbing to a 72 percent approval rating. The tide has turned; even some of the masses are now disgruntled; poverty rates are not down sufficiently; crime and cartels continue. The U.S. is still, of course, selling guns and buying drugs. The elites have always been against AMLO and rallies will intensify through the Spring, despite the Virus, which he has not handled well. His approach has been, much like right wing Evangelicals in the U.S., to “pray” it away.
AMLO has traveled around Mexico, on what he terms an “apostolic” tour, chanting “I am going to purify the country” (Enrique Krauze, “Mexico’s Ruinous Messiah,” New York Review of Books, 2 Jul 20). His victory laps are now halted by the Virus he ignored. Krauze and other right-of-center intellectuals claim his actions, if allowed to continue, will “end democracy.” A new group, FRENA, led by Gilberto Lozano of Coca-Cola, is working to force AMLO out by this November. He calls AMLO a “Castro-Chavista socialist,” and has asked Trump and Ambassador Landau for help. (José Guadalupe Arguello III and Ben Norton, “Topple AMLO,” The Gray Zone, 2020).
But political points of view in Mexico are as divided as in the U.S. Authors and groups more centrist continue to support the Mexican president. AMLO is “an admirer of Benito Juárez, the first Indigenous president of Mexico and of Lázaro Cárdenas, president during the 1930s and 40s, who nationalized oil” (Daniel Eltrignham, “AMLO and Mexican Democracy,” 2018). AMLO has reduced government salaries and supported laws allowing for criminal trial of political officials, including a sitting president. His rhetoric is leftist, but his Cabinet is business oriented.
Yet, AMLO, like Donald Trump, is egoistic and unpredictable. He made his peace with the Trump administration over trade, but maintains adamant opposition to the infamous “Wall.” He joins thousands of countrymen as they paint slogans on their own walls: “La Patria no se Vende—se Defiende.” “Mexico Doesn’t Sell Out—Mexico Will Defend Itself” (Carlos Biard Rugida, Center for Economic Research, Mexico City, and Patrick Iber, University of Wisconsin, “New Hope,” 2018).
Neither AMLO nor Trump will “go gentle into that dark night.” Dylan Thomas, the poet, in his lovely villanelle was speaking about death. The change coming may not be death, but it will be drastic. Either official could fade away—or could become more bizarre and dangerous – as each country finds its own democracy at risk. Nothing is predestined. Change will come, one way or the other. Only positive, active participation by masses of citizens voting will make the unexpected happen. Only they can take hold of inevitable change, directing it to a positive outcome.
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above guest column shows U.S. President Donald Trump and Mexico President Andrés Manuél López Obrador. (Photo: Especial)
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