Mexico's next president is the perfect foil to Trump

CNN/ Newswire | 7/2/2018, 11:48 a.m.
"If Trump sends out an offensive tweet, I will take charge and answer him," said incoming Mexican President Andres Manuel ...
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

José Antonio Meade, who was the candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party, was unlikely to garner many votes because of his party's association with long-term corruption. Ricardo Anaya, resigned from the National Action Party (PAN) to run as a candidate with Forward for Mexico (Por México al Frente), an alliance of a variety of opposition parties. He was a policy wonk more known for his love of PowerPoint presentations than people. And in last place we had Jaime "El Bronco" Rodríguez, the independent candidate who launched a thousand memes by promising to cut off the hands of corrupt officials and criminals. Highlighting the irony of it all, one of the most shared memes related to the candidate has been of "El Bronco" himself with no hands.

But it's not just what his counterparts lacked that made Lopez Obrador appealing. He, like Trump did when he was on the campaign trail, made sweeping proclamations to drain the swamp. In April, he said, "We are going to end corruption. It will clean up public life of Mexico, there will be no corruption and then [Trump] will not hold that idea, he will not insist on giving the impression that Mexicans are corrupt." Lopez Obrador's anti-corruption message was appealing to voters who had been worn down by the scandals and corruption from the previous administration. He is fond of saying, "Everything I am saying will be done," which, aside from being impossible, has the ring of a Trump's "I alone can fix it" sound bite.

Like Trump, Lopez Obrador has shown consistent disdain for the media. On the campaign trail, he referred to the media as "fifi" or elitist. He has also framed his politics as either you're with me or you're on the side of the corrupt mafia, polarizing the country in a way that may be familiar to many Americans.

The real question for Americans now is how President Lopez Obrador will interact with Trump and what effect his policies will have on the US. It appears that a Twitter war is imminent and that the second largest economy in Latin America will push back against Trump's dehumanization of Mexicans.

The issue that could have an impact on global human rights is if the Presidents of the US and Mexico both work to limit the rights of the LGTBI community and women's sexual and reproductive rights. The progress toward marriage equality and women's autonomy over their own bodies could be pushed back decades, leading to repression of marginalized groups.

Lopez Obrador may be the best candidate among a weak field, but his presidency is unlikely to produce a functional relationship with the US. That said, only time and Twitter will tell.