It is crystal-clear that López Obrador is not a democrat. He’s a revolutionary with a totalitarian mentality and messianic aspirations who is using the rhetoric of democracy to try to destroy this third historic attempt at democracy in Mexico. ~Enrique Krauze, The Washington Post

Lopez Obrador may be a revolutionary of sorts (he leads, does he not, the Party of the Democratic Revolution of Mexico), but then so was Viktor Yuschchenko.  The great and the good of the American establishment could hardly say a word against this criminal and oligarch backed by recidivist nationalists, because he served their goals and seemed willing to play ball.  Now I have no love for Lopez Obrador or what he represents, but if the criminal drunk now President in Kiev is a democrat and a “good” Orange revolutionary, Lopez Obrador is veritably a paragon of democratic leadership.  As readers will already know, I do not consider that a compliment–but people who mouth platitudes about the wonders of democracy should take that claim seriously.  

While there was probably little or no significant fraud in the Mexican election–though beware the pronouncements of “international observers” who seem to find fraud when the ’wrong’ candidates win and do not find it in other cases, much less what domestic election watchers say–and Lopez Obrador ought to respect the “rules of the game,” to take a phrase from Philippe Beneton’s description of the now purely procedural democratic system, he is showing us the other face of democracy, where “people power” takes to the streets to dictate results through direct action.  I regard this as an abhorrent aspect of democracy, but it is an integral part of a substantive democratic politics rather than a merely procedural sort of contest.  Having encouraged this kind of “democracy” all over the world last year and in previous years, Washington is now shocked to find it being used in ways that displease it, so reliably anti-Lopez Obrador voices from Mexico will be drummed up, like that of Mr. Krauze, to denounce the man.  But if Mr. Krauze can be summoned to liken Lopez Obrador to Porfirio Diaz in the pages of the establishment newspaper par excellence, no one came forward to liken Yushchenko to the German-backed hetman of the WWI era or any of the other Ukrainian nationalist lackeys of Western intervention from the past.         

This resort to “people power,” the illegal mobbing of the streets, the disruption of the national capital, the creation of conditions for civil war–all of this is typically well-respected and admired in the West when it is directed at a Sheverdnadze (a pro-Western lackey who has become inconvenient) or a Milosevic (an enemy) or against the Syrian occupation of Lebanon or against Akayev in Kyrgyzstan when he begins to show some deviation in foreign policy from our line.  (In each case, besides being inspired or actively supported by the U.S. or Soros or both, these ”revolutions” were mock popular protests that masked the interests of jockeying oligarchs and elites–none of them had much at all to do with protecting or enshrining ”democracy” in these countries.)  In the official story, the Orange Revolution was heroic and necessary to ward off authoritarianism; Lopez Obrador is declared to be totalitarian (perhaps soon Mr. Bush will lecture us on the dangers of Mexican fascism?) and heir to past dictators who threatens the very existence of democracy in Mexico.  Yet in fact Lopez Obrador has had a career as an opposition politician since 1988 when he joined what would become the PRD and embraced “people power” a lot earlier than the opportunists in Europe and Asia whom Washington so willingly embraced.  Of course he is irresponsible and a demagogue and all of these sorts of things, but then so are most democrats when you strip away some of the refinement.  Doesn’t the difference in treatment seem the least bit strange to anyone?  

Our establishment does not speak euphemistically about a colour-coded or symbolic revolution in Mexico because it likes the outcome; if it did not, if it were Lopez Obrador who had won by .5% and Calderon who was on the outs, it would be shouting about election fraud from the rooftops.  This is because democracy as a mechanism of selecting government and representing popular will has far less meaning for this establishment than getting the right results: electing the ‘right’ kind of people–the compliant, more globalist, pro-Washington kinds–is what constitutes good democracy today. 

In a sense, Calderon called this down on himself–it was he and PAN that thought demonising his opponent as a Chavista in waiting was smart negative campaigning (Lopez Obrador publicly rejected the comparison and repudiated Chavez and criticised Chavez’s interference in the election), and it may have won him the election, but at the cost of creating someone willing to go beyond the law and fulfill the worst prophecy of being another Hugo Chavez.  As I have said before, if Mexico falls into civil war, it will be disastrous for them and us, but the cause of the disaster will be too much zeal for democracy and not simply the instincts of a would-be dictator.  But democracies often result in despotisms and dictatorships for reasons such as these: one faction refuses to recognise the legitimacy of the other faction’s posession of power, and it uses whatever pretext or myth necessary to justify its opposition.  If Mexico collapses into anarchy and violence, you can blame Lopez Obrador, but you should really blame democracy above all else.