Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Just Another Ordinary Miracle

Bret Stephens on The Mexican Miracle:

AMLO contested Sunday's election, too, and this time he lost by a six-point margin. It's more evidence that Mexico's inevitable democracy is also becoming an irreversible one. Democracies can self-destruct in any number of ways—economic populism, criminal infiltration of the political system, the bankrupting engines of public-sector unions and universal entitlements—and Mexico remains susceptible to all of them. Yet it also seems like a corner's been turned.

That's reflected in Mr. Calderón's abiding personal popularity—his poll numbers are in the high 50s, even though his party was trounced Sunday—after all these years of grinding drug violence. Mexicans aren't sure the drug war is being won and don't think it's being fought well. But they're still for fighting and winning it. In his victory speech Sunday, the PRI's Enrique Peña Nieto promised "no negotiations and no truce" with the cartels. Confronting the narcos instead of leaving them alone (or colluding with them) is now the consensus position of Mexican politics. It wasn't that way even 10 years ago.

How Mr. Peña Nieto performs once he's in office is another question. But the fears that he will bring back the old PRI are wildly overblown. The PRI remains Mexico's party of patronage. But its victory on Sunday owes mainly to Mr. Peña Nieto's personal appeal, his centrism, and simple fatigue with Mr. Calderón's ruling PAN. Wanting political change for its own sake isn't necessarily wise but it's nothing if not democratic.

Certain neighbors of Mexico are no doubt familiar with that last sentiment.

That Mexico could have arrived at a point where an election is so ordinary is indeed something of a miracle. One that is too often unappreciated by most Americans.