Loony Latino politics

I’VE VOTED IN every Mexican presidential election since I became a citizen in 2005. The first election after that was in 2006. The presidential elections happen every six years, so I’ve only voted in two so far.

Another is coming this summer.

In 2006, things were pretty clear-cut. There were three major parties: PAN (National Action Party, right-wing), PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution, left-wing) and the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party, self-serving).

The PRI came into existence in 1929 and rigged elections to keep its presidents in power till the system failed in 2000 and the loudmouth Vicente Fox (PAN) was elected. Following him in 2006 was Felipe Calderón (PAN) and in 2012 we got Enrique Peña Nieto (PRI again). I voted for both Calderón and Peña Nieto.

So I’m batting 1,000.

I’m thinking Mexicans, after electing two PAN presidents and not seeing manna falling from heaven, decided to give PRI another chance, a chance most have regretted. I saw a poll recently in which about 65 percent of all Mexicans said they would never, ever vote for a PRI candidate again, and I cannot blame them.

During this back and forth between PRI and PAN has been the phenomenon of a nincompoop named Andrés Manuel López Obrador who goes by the initials AMLO. He almost won in 2006 and again in 2012 as the candidate of the PRD.

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AMLO

In 2006, AMLO lost by just 0.58 percent of the vote. He’s not a good loser, so he caused lots of demonstrations, especially in Mexico City, for a fair spell after the election. He roamed the nation, calling himself the “legitimate president.”

The bozo ran again in 2012 as the candidate of a political coalition headed by the PRD. After losing again, he and the PRD parted ways, and two years later he formed his own party, the National Regeneration Movement which goes by the initials MORENA, a flagrantly racist come-on.

Morena or its masculine form, Moreno, is Spanish for brown-skinned person, and since 90 percent of Mexicans are brown-skinned people, the none-too-subtle message here is “We are your party!” Forget the issues, vote your skin color.

Yes, American thinking has moved over the Rio Bravo. Just freaking great. Ironically, AMLO is not moreno. He’s just another of those old white guys.

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard. — H.L. Mencken

After Mexicans voted twice for the PAN and not seeing manna fall from heaven, and then returning to the Devil They Knew, and seeing general corruption get even worse than normal, and that’s saying something, they’re ready for a change.

MORENA is that change, and AMLO currently leads in the polls. Unfortunately, the Mexican system does not require a majority of the votes to be president. You just have to get more votes than any other guy. You can become president with, say, 35 percent of the vote, with 65 percent wishing you’d take a hike.

There are no runoffs of the two top candidates. This is dumb, of course.

AMLO has opposed most every national reform of recent years. Education, Energy, Law. He doesn’t like gas stations from other countries here. He’s one with troublesome teacher unions. He’s a man of “the people,” if you know what I mean.

To quote H.L. Mencken: Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

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Get-Out-the-Vote Campaigns

Campaigns to get people registered to vote and to inspire them to vote because it’s their civic responsibility … Lord, what a lousy idea.

We’re seeing a lot of that here.

People who must be pushed to vote should not vote because they lack information and are easily manipulated. Not only should people not be encouraged to vote, the right to vote should be restricted in a number of ways. Universal suffrage is an insufferable notion.

By the way, we have voter-ID cards. No card, no vote. And absolutely no one thinks that getting one is an outrageous imposition.

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I just wanna license to steal job!

Over the past few years in Mexico, a disturbing trend has emerged. Coalitions of political parties. Back in the olden days, if someone was, say, a PAN candidate you could, with some degree of certainty, know that person was a conservative. If someone was a candidate of the Workers Party (read communist), you could pretty much be assured the person was a nincompoop.

Now, however, there are coalitions of parties that put up a single candidate, and the coalition can include both the conservative PAN and the left-wing PRD, even the commie Workers Party (PT). This is ridiculous.

I read a news story recently of a woman candidate who has been on the ticket of all the major parties and most of the fringe parties as well. She is now a candidate for MORENA, of course. What does she believe in? Getting a political post, and nothing more. It can be a cash cow. (See note at bottom.)

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Election day

We will vote for our next president on July 1. AMLO likely will be ahead in the polls. My vote will go to whomever is No. 2. Alas, there are five candidates on the ballot, and AMLO only has to win more than any one of the others.

With two candidates, he would lose. Five presents a problem. Three of the five are affiliated with major parties. Two are independents. This race is the first time that independents have been allowed to run.

If AMLO loses again, he might become Mexico’s Hillary, touring the nation and world to weep, moan, groan and say it’s just not fair. He’ll blame his loss on deplorable, uneducated peons (Mexican rednecks) who should have known better, and women who couldn’t stand up to their husbands.

With luck, my perfect batting average in elections here will continue.

Let us pray so.

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(Note 1: AMLO is the candidate of a coalition known as the “Together We Will Make History.” It includes MORENA, the Workers Party, i.e. communists, and something called the Social Encounter Party. Ricardo Anaya, currently No. 2 in the polling, is the candidate of a coalition known as the “Front for Mexico,” which includes the right-wing PAN, the left-wing PRD and a party called the Citizen Movement. José Antonio Meade is the candidate of a coalition called “Everyone for Mexico.” It is made up of the PRI, the Greens, which is a right-wing party in Mexico (Go figger!) and a fringe party called the New Alliance. All of this is pure nuts.)

(Note 2: Candidates in Mexico are legally restricted to three months of campaigning. It started this month. Contrast that to the United States where people can kick off campaigns, officially or not, years in advance. I prefer our system.)

The City of Angels adventure

(Note: It’s advisable to read the previous post, The New York City Adventure, before reading this one.)

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GETTING OFF the Greyhound bus from New York City, there I was in Nashville, Hillbilly Heaven, and where my parents had relocated three years earlier.

My father picked me up at the bus station, drove me back to their apartment, phoned my mother where she was working, and said: Brace yourself.

Those very words.

I soon had a job at a small firm that refurbished mattresses. I and another guy would drive a truck to homes and pick up tatty mattresses that would be cleaned and returned to the owners. I worked there just long enough to save money for another Greyhound ticket, back to California.

My parents were still bracing themselves when I headed west again.

The ride from Nashville was not quite so long as the earlier trip from Los Angeles to New York, but it was a long haul nonetheless. Only a few months had passed.

I got off the bus in downtown Los Angeles, and a friend from the Air Force met me. I quickly found a studio apartment in Santa Monica and a job parking cars in a Beverly Hills lot. Things went downhill fast, economically and emotionally.

Just a few weeks later, I was broke. And living in Los Angeles without a car ain’t no cakewalk. I phoned my parents and asked for bus fare. Soon I was back on a Greyhound heading east to Nashville.

Shortly after my return, I enrolled at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, but that did not last long. Nothing lasted long for me in those times.

My parents were in Nashville because my father was working on The Tennessean newspaper. Within a year after my second return, my parents moved to New Orleans. I jumped into the Rambler’s back seat, going along for the ride.

New Orleans. Now that was a place where I felt at home.

For 18 years.

Two wives, one divorce, two (almost three) degrees, the newspaper business, bars, motorcycles, airplanes, raw oysters, Dixie Beer, crawfish and ketchup, hangovers, Mardi Gras … and even more Dixie Beer. It was a city that suited me.

The New York City adventure

I WALKED OUT the front gate of Castle Air Force Base in the San Joaquin Valley of Central California a free, young man. It was the mid-1960s.

Taking a taxi the few miles into Merced, I got on a Greyhound down to the City of Angels where I boarded another bus headed to New York City, 2,451 miles away as the buzzard flies. It was a four-and-a-half-day ride.

I thought I was in love, and maybe I was. The object of my desires, my high school sweetheart, lived just outside New York City in White Plains. She was staying with her psychologist — or perhaps psychiatrist; I don’t recall — and his family, sent there from Jacksonville, Florida, by wealthy, worried parents.

Her name was Jane, a beautiful, teenaged Jewish Princess and only child.

Aside from one breakdown near Pittsburgh, Pa., in the middle of the night, and the fact that I had stupidly put all my clothes and toothbrush in my suitcase locked in the belly of the bus, the trip was uneventful.

I walked out of the Greyhound station in Manhattan and spotted a hotel across the street. I checked in, showered, brushed my teeth and combed my hair. Ah, that’s more like it. And I phoned Jane.

It was either that afternoon or the following day — it was over half a century ago — that she came into town to see me. We got naked in the hotel, just the second time in my life, and then we went out. The first had been with her too, a couple of years before.

I recall neither where we went nor what we did, but I do remember she was distant, which saddened me.

Over the next three days I found a studio apartment in Greenwich Village and got a job as a painter’s helper via an employment agency. The memories are quite vague now. I saw Jane one more time, and I walked her one evening to a subway station that would return her to Grand Central and on to White Plains.

I spent just one night in the apartment and never reported to my first day of work as a painter’s helper. Instead I returned to the Greyhound station and boarded a bus to Nashville, Tennessee, where my parents lived.

I did not say goodbye to Jane, and I never saw her again.

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(Tomorrow: The City of Angels Adventure, back to California.)