Left-handed compliments

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Kudos to the Washington Post for finally calling attention to the bit of democratic backsliding down in Mexico, with an editorial denouncing the faux-impeachment of leftist candidate Lopez Obrador. Well, sort of. This sentence is exactly right: “[T]he way to stop this popular politician is not to force him off the ballot through a legal trick.” Right on. But then, sadly, the Post has to get all obtuse on us, railing against Obrador’s left-leanings:

Mexico’s political establishment and its business community are deeply worried about Mr. Lopez Obrador, who promises to apply the leftist populism now gaining strength in Latin America in a country that has aggressively — and mostly successfully — pursued free-market capitalism for the past 15 years. Mr. Lopez Obrador has said he would “restructure” Mexico’s foreign debt and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Canada, even though NAFTA has produced an explosion of Mexican exports and, according to an exhaustive World Bank study, made Mexicans richer.

Mr. Lopez Obrador might drive foreign investment from Mexico and destabilize the economy with massive government spending; at worst, he might imitate Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, who has wrecked his country’s private sector and made most of its people poorer.

Those who wish to see Mexico continue to modernize and grow prosperous can hope that Mr. Lopez Obrador does not become its next president.

Spare me! Look, I think neo-liberalism’s great and all. Free trade, hooray! Markets, whoo! Really. But it takes a special sort of willful blindness to pretend that Mexico’s great experiment with free marketeering hasn’t caused the country a great deal of misery. After Mexico’s 1994 currency crises and subsequent bailouts, please remember, the country barely grew in the following couple of years, saw real wages stagnate and inequality increase, experienced a near-explosion in poverty rates, lost millions of workers who fled to the United States, and watched as much of its banking and industrial sector were bought up by American businessmen. Oh, and lest we forget, that was the second debt crisis in roughly a decade. Understandably, Mexicans tend not to be thrilled with the state of affairs.

Meanwhile, there’s no good reason to think that Obrador would wreck the country. You can argue for or against “massive government spending,” as well as when and how to do it, but there’s certainly nothing intrinsic about more spending that causes it to “destabilize the economy”. The most dangerous thing, at this point, is for political and opinion leaders in the United States to start railing blindly against left-leaning politicians in the South. That sort of thing does, understandably, tend to produce leaders who start openly defying the U.S. and going to war against the private sector. Not that my opinion matters. I see in today’s New York Times that this sort of thing is already starting to happen in Nicaragua, as U.S. officials are denouncing the long-shot Sandinista candidate a full year and a half before the elections. Why? For the heck of it! Nicely done.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate