The question is: Can anyone be, at the same time, opposition and government?
The answer, at least in Mexico is: yes, of course it is.
With a smirk that borders on euphoria, he claims to be the most popular president in the world. Able to lead the country back to the era of imperial presidentialism, he does not hesitate to recognize that what he demands of all his collaborators is “blind obedience.” With the impetus of an enlightened man, he is the undisputed leader – probably the only one – of a project with historical ambitions: the great Fourth Transformation.
For at least the last four decades, there has not been a greater concentration of power that exceeds the political capital accumulated by Andrés Manuel López Obrador during the first half of his six-year term. And yet, every day he rises before the sun to star in a kind of permanent preaching against “the power mafia”, the dark forces, neoliberalism, “those from before” and “the conservatives” an ideology defeated in the mid-nineteenth century.
A medium-circulation newspaper, a handful of “organic intellectuals,” a few old-fashioned journalists, a couple of businessmen and, diffusely, some of the most stale and discredited politicians in recent history make up the list of his favorite villains.
Seeing is believing: a political activist in public squares and fiery rhetoric was the one who invented the formula to revive much of the old regime. From the National Palace he concentrates power from the simplest rhetoric of an opposition movement: to hold the ghost of the past responsible for all the evils and tragedies of the country.
In a context of global crisis, when the role of the authority (s) faces wide social rejection for problems that far exceed the traditional functions of a government, “President Peje” has managed to maintain high levels of popularity despite that violence and social decomposition are worse than ever, despite the explosive growth of poverty, economic stagnation and the very series of mistakes that could be expected after the arrival of a new political clique to the government.
Like almost everything that is looked at in hindsight, it seems easy, to rule as emperor and preach as opponent.
Of course his case is not unique in these times. In an era in which the anti-system narrative has a powerful influence in almost all areas of human, social and cultural relations, it was possible for Donald Trump, a billionaire clown , to become the champion of the most miserable segments and embittered by the richest nation in the world and that his apprenticeship as a tyrant could only have been interrupted, and for very little, due to the death of half a million people as a result of his irresponsible handling of the pandemic. Or that in Brazil a “psychopath”, as Inazio Lula refers to President Jair Bolsonaro, has been able to destroy one of the most important social mobility phenomena of the 21st century.
Mounted on the “blessed social media” – the same ones that served to cook Brexit in the United Kingdom and the advance of the extreme right in much of Europe – the president of Mexico manages to escape a major crisis with a simple “I can be responsible, but not guilty ”and has been able to renew the powerful rhetoric of“ social justice ”which was one of the two pillars of the same seven-decade regime, which it claims to fight.
An old-fashioned politician, forged in the “dirt roads” that took him to almost all the public squares of the country, the Mexican president has managed to stay above reality due to his extraordinary sensitivity and the permanent use (and abuse) of the great symbols of Mexico´s history, his powerful instincts to manage the conflict and his decision to open the mythical Pandora’s box.
In a region with a long history of caciques and caudillos, President López is a kind of genius in managing and taking advantage of the social resentment of broad social groups, the erosion of the liturgy of power that worked so much for the old national elite, which certainly does not hide its own parasitic, corrupt and, above all, mediocre condition.
In addition to the use of the National Army never seen in times of peace, the ideological mobilization of the enormous bureaucratic machinery, the president resorts every morning to the presidential pulpit to project his own image on scales comparable to the great heroes of the world.
He may be aware of that old phrase according to which “if you really want power, found a religion” (Emile Ciorán), or maybe not; in any case the Mexican president has shown an exceptional talent to construct his narrative around the eternal rhetoric about the good versus evil. He has managed to appropriate the best features of “good priismo” (whatever that means) and seems perfectly aware that what best communicates are emotions. And of course, the classic formula of “repetition-repetition-repetition” of every morning.