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What is it that the opposition does not understand that it does not understand?

The contempt for the electorate is what has the opposition on the canvas, unable to accept its resounding defeat and incapable of restructuring itself.

On Sunday, June 2, Morena had a landslide victory at the polls in the Mexican elections. Not only did it win the presidency with almost 60% of votes in favor of Claudia Sheinbaum, but also seven of the nine entities in competition (among them, the CDMX, where it recovered ground lost in 2021), in addition to achieving without problems a qualified majority in the Chamber of Deputies -and almost obtained in the Senate-. In short, Morena’s triumph gave it a wide margin of maneuver to develop projects at different levels and to promote a series of reforms that President López Obrador could not carry out, due to the closing of ranks of the opposition, which decided to vote as a block against the proposals, even before they had even been thought of.

Opposition ideologues have taken to the media to provide ad hoc explanations for their defeat. The reasons put forward range from the ridiculous suspicion of an electoral fraud with Cuban artificial intelligence, to the intervention of López Obrador’s government to favor their candidate, to the blaming of the “good people” who, in their ignorance and stupidity, decided, against “their best interests”, to put back on the chains from which an “enlightened” elite had freed them. It is mainly these last reasons, loaded with aporophobia and Mexican racist classism, that lead us to ask ourselves the question that is the title of this column: What is it that the opposition does not understand that it does not understand?

To begin with, it is necessary to say that it is false that Morena’s triumph comes from the poorest sector. As can be seen in an article in the newspaper El País of June 3, Claudia Sheinbaum obtained a majority vote among the different age groups, among men and women, in the different levels of studies (except for higher education, where she is on equal footing with Xóchitl Gálvez) and income, as well as by employment status (except for employers or employers). What does this suggest? Sheinbaum (and Morena, in general) obtained a majority democratic mandate that legitimizes her among different social sectors. Aporophobic and classist explanations cannot be supported.

To understand this overwhelming triumph, we must be clear that Morena is not only a political party, but that it arises from a movement of formation and political training of cadres according to an ideological framework, which is based on the proposal of a Mexican humanism and a Loving Republic founded on the principle of social justice and welfare: “For the good of all, first the poor”. With this, a difference can be drawn regarding past elections (to a certain extent, even López Obrador’s): the processes of “democratic” transition were produced through a vote against officialdom, as a punishment for its bad performance or evident but unpunished corruption. The triumph of Claudia Sheinbaum (and of Morena), then, is not a veiled reelection of López Obrador, but a vote of confidence in a project of a nation that surpasses the six-year term goals (a referendum of the project, not of AMLO), with a clear, coherent and generally congruent ideological base (with its very worrisome exceptions).

Now, beyond the ideological consistency of the project, it appears that people have seen a substantial improvement in their quality of life. More than 5 million Mexicans were lifted out of poverty during López Obrador’s six-year term, despite the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, as a result not only of the expansion and universalization of constitutional social programs (as the opposition has argued, branding this government as populist), but also of: (a) the increase in the minimum wage to almost double, triple on the border; (b) the historic decrease in unemployment rates; (c) the processes of re-industrialization of Mexico through what the opposition has wanted to label as useless “pharaonic works”, a trend that runs in the opposite direction of the neoliberal policies imposed on “developing” countries, which are assigned a subordinate role and conditioned by the productive processes of a given economic region in a world-economy; d) the increase in foreign direct investment and the strengthening of the peso since 2019, which is the currency that has appreciated the most. And, all of this, through public policies in line with the principles of strengthening national sovereignty and the domestic market, faithful to the statutes of the National Regeneration Movement.

The opposition, meanwhile, continues to think of voters as consumers of political merchandise, they remain stuck in a model of elitist democracy derived from the theories of Walter Lippmann or Joseph Schumpeter, where citizens are conceived as herds, as irrational masses, as consumers of lifestyles (in the manner of the marketing of Starbucks, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger or, in Mexico, the classist aspirationalism of El Palacio de Hierro), manipulable through media propaganda and fear campaigns, strategies used in the (fraudulent) elections of 2006 and that they wanted to redeem both in 2018 and in this campaign. According to this logic, if the citizen is a consumer of political merchandise, what is required is only a good advertising campaign. An explicit national project can be dispensed with — we know the implicit one: the return to neoliberal policies of privatization of services, deregulation of the economy and flexibilization of labor, tax forgiveness for large investments and austerity policies in social programs and services — and a clear and public ideological foundation (the swinging of Xóchitl Gálvez’s proposals, from the center-left to the right and from conservatism to good-natured progressivism, is a clear symptom).

Here is what they do not understand: that keeps them insulting the electorate as if the citizens could not know if their life condition has improved or if they were unable to see the contradictions and falsehood. The contempt of the electorate is what keeps the opposition on the canvas, unable to accept its resounding defeat, unable to restructure itself. In short, the opposition is necessary. But we deserve a more dignified opposition and not this clique that is incapable of understanding that, somehow, what the Morena cadres are looking for has happened: the revolution of the Mexican people’s conscience.

*Translated from Spanish by Micaela Machado Rodrigues


Profesor de la Universidad Autónoma Nacional de México (UNAM). Doctor en Filosofía por la UNAM. Especialista evaluación axiológica de tecnologías y en filosofía política de la ciencia.


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