On July 2nd, 2006, Mexico held its presidential election. Since my wife is a Mexican citizen, she went to vote at her local polling station, and I accompanied her. (Not being a Mexican citizen though, I didn't vote.)
I was impressed once again by the Mexican electoral system. As I have pointed out, the Mexican voter registration system is superior to ours. Only 7 American states use photo ID, and most states under the Motor Voter regime don't even require proof of identity, or citizenship.
But in Mexico every voter has a secure voter ID card, with a photograph. When the voter arrives to the polling station, the poll workers check it against a book with the photograph of every single voter in the precinct.
We should copy the Mexican voter registration system.
The election itself went smoothly. Mexico has a good electoral system and its operations were transparent.
The problem was—and is—the razor-thin distance between the two front-runners: Felipe Calderon of the PAN (National Action Party) and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (known by his initials as AMLO) of the PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution.)
Calderon beat AMLO by only 243,943 votes. Unsurprisingly, Lopez Obrador is not happy and is contesting the election.
The Mexican electoral court will have the final say, but I see no compelling reason to doubt that Calderon will be declared the official winner.
So what does a Calderon presidency mean for the U.S., and more specifically, for the immigration question?
Remember that six years ago, there were high hopes pinned upon the election of Vicente Fox, who, we were told was "pro-American." Fox and his administration turned out to be the biggest subverter of U.S. immigration law in Mexican history—with plenty of help on our side of the border, of course.
Now, the same sorts of things are being said about the new apparent Presidente-elect.
Calderon has been called "a U.S. style conservative" but that characterization is misleading. [Mexican conservative could buck trend, By Alistair Scrutton, Reuters, Jul 1, 2006] Yes, he is "right-wing" by Mexican standards but is by no means a "U.S. style conservative."
Calderon wants to establish a national system of day care centers for children, lengthen the school day, expand Fox's social programs and work toward universal health care. He refuses to privatize Mexico's PEMEX oil monopoly, despite the fact that, as a former secretary of energy, he knows what a mess it is.
But AMLO made even more promises and seemed unable to explain how he would pay for all of them. As the campaign progressed Calderon made more promises to compete with Lopez Obrador. I saw Calderon speak twice (and AMLO once) and the second time I saw Calderon, he was sounding more AMLO-ish.
Hopefully Calderon will continue the sound financial policies of Fox, not getting into debt, keeping the peso stable, that sort of thing. We might also hope he can reform the economy to make it more productive. But Calderon is certainly not a U.S. style limited government conservative—there's no niche for that point of view in Mexican politics.
Along these lines, Dick Morris, spin doctor for hire, just wrote an absolutely atrocious article about the Mexican election. [The Republican Base Backs "Amnesty"? By Dick Morris FrontPageMagazine.com, July 6, 2006]
In fact, Morris himself was probably involved in the election, as an advisor to Felipe Calderon, just as he worked for Fox six years ago.
During the election, Morris told us we had to have a guest worker program to please "the Mexican electorate" and thus help Calderon
Well, we didn't and Calderon won anyway. Now Morris says we owe Mexico an amnesty as a reward for electing Calderon. Here's what Morris writes:
"Now that Felipe Calderón seems to have won and the threat that was embodied by Chavista Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been defeated, it is time for the Republicans in the House to look beyond their own noses and deal generously with our neighbor to the south.
By "dealing generously with our neighbor to the south" Morris means giving an amnesty to illegal aliens.
And by the way, why do Morris (or his editor) and other journalists persist in including the accents in Spanish names? If we're writing English, we aren't required to include those accents.
Morris completely distorts the Mexican election:
"The Mexican people have just rejected a leftist anti-American alternative and embraced free-market capitalism in a dramatic vote. It is one thing for middle-class Americans to do so, but for Mexicans, many of whom are impoverished, to turn away from a candidate who promises a 20 percent pay increase and free gas and electricity and embrace a free-market alternative is a testament to the sense, perspective, balance, wisdom, and maturity of the Mexican electorate."
There are so many misrepresentations here it's hard to know where to begin. In the first place, Calderon is a free-marketer only in a relative sense.
Secondly, this was hardly a victory for "free-market capitalism."
About 60% of the Mexican electorate voted in this election, and of that 60%, only 35.89% voted for Calderon! How can Morris call it a dramatic victory for free-market capitalism when the majority of Mexicans who voted, voted against Calderon?
AMLO received only 243,934 votes less than Calderon, and many of the impoverished Mexicans Morris refers to did vote for AMLO.
Morris distorts what Lopez Obrador promised. He didn't promise "free gas and electricity" - he promised a cut in the prices of such services—and so did Calderon—who by the end of the election was pandering harder to compete with AMLO.
Morris misses the boat on immigration :
"And, in the most recent Mexican elections, the leftist demagogue (AMLO), who played on popular resentment against American immigration policies…"
As I pointed out in a previous Memo to Mexico, ALL the Mexican candidates, including Calderon, were for open borders.
Morris assures his readers that
"… the results of the 2004 elections in the United States and the 2006 elections in Mexico both attest to the fundamental conservatism of the Latino voters."
If by "fundamental conservatism" you are talking about U.S. style limited government conservatism, Morris is way off. As Steve Sailer explained in a VDARE.com article in 2002 "on the question of more taxing and spending, Hispanic Republicans are slightly more liberal than white Democrats." Republican politicians can only out-pander Democrats by abandoning their own principles.
Morris' solution—amnesty, of course, as a reward to Mexico for electing Morris' candidate.
As for Calderon, I wish him the best.
I wish he would spend his six years as president of Mexico working to improve Mexico's economy, not meddling in U.S. immigration policy and trying to dump his country's social problems on America. But that's a fantasy.
The apparent Presidente-elect is already laying out what he expects of U.S. immigration policy. He has slammed the feared border wall and plans to go to the U.S. and visit Mexican-Americans. [Apparent Mexican Winner Attacks Border Wall, by Manuel Roig-Franzia, Washington Post, July 8th, 2006]
Furthermore, Calderon wants all U.S. states to accept the Mexican matricula consular ID so illegal aliens can get driver's licenses, he wants the U.S. labor market opened up to Mexican laborers and he wants our immigration laws changed. [Calderón talks foreign policy, By Chris Hawley, Arizona Republic July 8th, 2006]
Honestly, does anyone actually believe that a Mexican president, of any party, cares what ordinary Americans think of immigration? Our own president doesn't care what we think. Why would a Mexican president care?
So when the Calderon administration takes charge, you can expect more Mexican meddling in U.S. immigration policy, just as we've tolerated the past five and a half years from the "pro-American" Fox administration.
On the immigration question, when Calderon replaces Fox, we can say with "The Who"
"Meet the new boss—same as the old boss."
American citizen Allan Wall (email him) resides in Mexico, with a legal permit issued him by the Mexican government. Allan recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his FRONTPAGEMAG.COM articles are archived here his "Dispatches from Iraq" are archived here his website is here.