The villains also have virtues. In today’s world the power of propaganda is as important as military force or economic influence. In the stark struggle for the control of the dominant narrative in world public opinion, we must recognize that The Lord of twitts has known how to use new technologies to feed with fears and hatred an efficient rhetoric that maintains in the White House. And from there he has known how to hit the rest of the world, starting with Mexico.
He may be a clown, but Mr. Trump has demonstrated his capability to read the frustration and bitterness with which a large part of the American society was positioned against globalization, economic modernization and even the growth of spaces for tolerance and pluralism.
An abusive and erratic businessman, he took advantage of the loss of prestige of the old institutions, professional politicians and big media. In the post-truth era, he has had the talent to take the helm of public narrative.
With an ego the size of the military empire that it heads, it seems sensible to recognize that the president of the United States knew how to push the pendulum of history; even in the opposite direction to the fight against the environmental collapse of the planet and the defense of the most elemental human values.
The fact is that, protected by the same ethereal promise of its first campaign – Make America great again–, in less than 18 months, the Trump phenomenon can be renewed for 4 more years.
Of course, in this scenario the most affected country will be Mexico, whose government has opted for the preaching of a kind of Franciscan humility before the daily attacks of Mr. Trump.
Few countries in the world have known more closely than the south neighbor the destructive force of what we knew half a century ago as “Yankee imperialism”. Neighbors for the mandate of geography, the United States and Mexico have always had an extremely complex relationship. Suffice perhaps a single sample button:
In the very heart of the country, inside the National Palace, in front of the Plaza de la Constitución, next to the Templo Mayor and the Cathedral, in the same place that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador chose to dispatch and live, there is a museum that recovers many of the great symbols of national history. Among them, a painting that portrays the historical moment of the first US military invasion against Mexico, the same one in which more than half of its territory was taken from it.
Even if it’s in a painting, seeing the United States flag flying in the National Palace should be an important signal for Mexicans.
But even those who presume their great knowledge of the past, or say to profess the most progressive ideologies, also yield to the imperial force. It is difficult to imagine what, in the name of the renewal of the Trade Treaty, the Mexican authorities will not be able to accept. The examples are abundant in both the migratory and diplomatic fields.
Certainly, since Porfirio Díaz there has not been a Mexican president who does not retreat before the force of the northern empire. Even Lázaro Cárdenas, who had the talent to take advantage of the context of World War II to nationalize the oil industry, opted to choose a successor close to US interests. The rest, from Luis Echeverría to Carlos Salinas, have looked at the United States with a mixture of admiration and fear that marked their governments.
Of course, there are objective reasons to understand that kind of fascination: from the deep economic connection between both countries, the brutal asymmetry in resources and generation of knowledge, even the social narrative that makes the accumulation of money a type of superior human virtue.
Perhaps for that reason, facing Mr. Trump, the Mexican president has chosen to abandon the nationalist rhetoric with which he was formed. “Love and Peace” responds again and again to the constant discursive and commercial attacks of the neighboring president. If anything, just ask him, by show of hands, his followers in the public square, if they want to make Mr. Trump angry.
Therefore, the constant setbacks in the policies towards Central American migration and the abandonment – in fact – of the agenda of the more than 35 million Mexican immigrants and their descendants living in the United States.
And although from a perspective of realpolitik could be understood even the “dinner of friends” between Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and President Obrador himself, it would be enough to have the slightest idea about how the power machinery inside The Beltway works to question the Mexican government’s tactic of trying not to get angry at the bully of the neighborhood.
Given that the US electoral game is aimed at building a 50-50 scenario, considering the enormous resentment against Trump within the republican political elite, and the possible return of the Obama factor to the polls – via Joe Biden, his number two -, it seems quite risky to bet now for continuity.
Above all, because heading to Tuesday November 3, 2020, Trump, as candidate, continues to have as favorite harangues the attack on the “bad hombres” and his promise of that “great wall” that will protect the American people from the great evils that come through the border with Mexico.