AMLO Cardenas

July 1, 2018

Today was the biggest election in Mexican history.

My thumb is inked, which means that I’ve cast my vote. So, I’m standing in line at the casilla at the public school three blocks from my house this morning, even before my morning coffee, thinking I’d walk over to OXXO and get a free cup for showing my thumb, joined by the rest of the neighborhood dressed in their Sunday best — Skechers and sweats– when an ignorant middle-class woman ahead of me in line asks if I’m Mexican. “Do you think I’d be standing waiting around here if I weren’t?” She chimes in with that usual “You don’t look Mexican,” never mind I look like half the people waiting in the schoolyard. I am so tempted to tell her “You don’t look like you can read,” but I don’t.

She leaves a few minutes later to go to the Sunday tianguis.

My line isn’t moving, even though the schoolroom is staffed with the election personnel. The vigilantes de los partidos – observers from each of the political parties – haven’t shown up yet, and the party can’t proceed until they’re all there. That always seems to happen in the P through Z line.

There are 25 people ahead of me in line, the head of which is marked by a woman in an orange headscarf and another with platinum-streaked hair. A couple one person ahead of me are passing the time playing pat-a-cake pat-a-cake baker’s man; the man directly ahead of me, dressed in black and white from his ball cap all the way to his Skechers, black Bermuda shorts, a white t-shirt under a black vest, checks his iPhone, clad in a black leather case; the girl behind me with neatly applied lipstick and good eye makeup is getting one call after another on her smartphone; and the reigning doyenne of the organic market is four people behind her, stylish in khaki slacks and a white blouse, which I’d say came from Palacio de Hierro. I have on purple Skechers (2017), black Adidas pants from Nordstrom Rack in Honolulu in 2006, a grey t-shirt from Nordstrom’s in San Mateo (2014), and a purple appliqued hoodie. And freshly dyed hair.

Finally, an elderly nun, her thick white hair neatly coiffed, a giant cross hanging from her neck, emerges, raising her inked thumb in victory, proclaiming “I was the first!” as she practically dances across the pavement. She was one of the happiest nuns I’ve seen in ages.

And before long, my turn at the polls arrives. I hand over my INE card, the election worker reads out my name but not before asking “What is your last name?” My surname appears in the same spot on the card that everyone else’s does, but it’s confusing, since my last name is all too often confused with the first. Still, since the card only reveals two names—a first and a last—you’d think he’d figure that much out. He reads off my name, five workers checking their rosters to mark my appearance, and one poll worker after another rips a ballot from their book. I enter the booth with a handful of ballots – one for each of the five races.

There may be tacos (multiple ballots folded together), but there will be no hanging chads. All of the voting is done with paper ballots, voters using the same ballot from Tijuana to Cancun.

And after marking each with an X in the same spot to cast my free and secret vote, I exit the voting area, folding my ballot to deposit in the box marked in a different color for each office. I go on to pick up my INE card, getting my right thumb indelibly inked. Just so I won’t vote twice.

And I stride, victoriously, from the school yard. It’s no secret that each of my votes went for the PRI candidates. That’s just how I’m wired.

August 5, 2018.

My candidate for president came in the third. It wasn’t all that surprising, even though I still maintain that he was the best-qualified for the job. During his concession appearance the evening of the election, he almost seemed relieved. His wife unquestionably had to have been relieved. And both will surely lead much saner, less complicated lives during the coming six years than the man who won.

It seemed a given, no matter whom you might’ve asked, that Andrés Manuel López Obrador, AMLO, would win. What rankled me more than anything were the attitudes of many voters, smugly declaring that it was time for revolution, that they were somehow the anointed ones for supporting him, and how much so many of them bore that same scent of those who had supported Hillary Clinton.

AMLO shouldered the victory with just as much class and style as José Antonio Meade Kuribreña handled defeat. At least publicly, hands reached across party lines for a show of unity and moving on.

There were no public meltdowns, no ninny snowflakes crying in their Kool-Aid, and life went on just as always. No one donned silly pink knitted hats. The peso became stronger. The sky didn’t fall.

Sure, there were burned ballots, and little frauds committed here and there, just as there is in every democracy, everywhere. But none of it was sufficient to change the final result.

Estadounidenses could take a few lessons from Mexicans about how a mature nation operates. A year and a half have now passed since Donald Trump was inaugurated, and Estadounidenses still can’t get their acts sufficiently together to realize that it’s about respecting the office as much as the one who occupies it. It’s dangerous to admit to Estadounidenses that you voted for Trump. Five years from now, AMLO’s visage may be on the Judases that we all blow up just before Easter and exposes will be published, but for now, he’s being treated as the second coming of Lázaro Cárdenas del Río (Mexico’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt) and that’s just fine. (I’d rather have seen the second coming of Adolfo López Mateos, but there’s always next time.)

May AMLO turn out to be a great president. He’s already exceeding my expectations.

9 comments on “AMLO Cardenas

  1. says:

    It’s frightening that we have so many voters who have come unhinged about the outcome of our national election. It is mostly emotional immaturity/arrested development and it worries me that kids like David Hogg seem to


  2. says:

    … like David Hogg seem to have a platform and a constituency based on his uninformed ego.


  3. I have discovered that it’s easier not to go to the polling station early. Everyone does that, thinking they’ll beat the crowd, but all they do is create it. Go in the mid-afternoon, and it’s smoother sailing by far.

    I was wearing blue jeans — purchased at Walmart God knows when — and a shirt I do not recall at this point, likely purchased at a resale place in the Pátzcuaro street market. My feet sported hiking boots I bought about a decade back at Academy Sporting Goods in San Antonio, Texas. I looked very good, especially for my age.

    My wife and I waltzed right in, and there was no wait. I too voted for Meade for all the good it did him or me. And yeah, AMLO so far is exceeding my expectations too. For this, I am grateful. But he’s not in office yet, so we’ll see. I am guardedly optimistic and, as always, elated I do not live in the United States … or even visit that imploding nation anymore.

    This was my third participation in a presidential election in Mexico, and the first time my candidate did not win. The magic has left me.


  4. Cristóbal Díaz says:

    “Today was the biggest election in Mexican history.” ???

    Debes estar bromeando! Y la del año 2000, que?


  5. Steve Cotton says:

    I found this year’s election to be fascinating. AMLO has always had a bit of the national populist about him, but this year he played it full throttle. When the Social Encounter Party joined forces with AMLO, I knew something interesting was afoot. And it appears it may not have been an alliance of convenience. It was almost as if Bernie Sanders and Pat Buchanan had joined forces to battle the liberal order.

    I am getting more optimistic about the result. It appears that the two North American populist presidents may work well together. We shall see.


  6. rickhallmexico says:

    Good to see you writing again! AMLO might be pretty good and we need a change.

    I agree that Meade is very prepared and a very decent person. A number of friends and familia politca worked closely with him on his campaign. He could have been beneficial for us. But that being said, the corruptness and ineptness of the PRI with Peña Nieto was absolutely absurd. He was given the chance to remake the party and had the vote of the people, but within 6 weeks it was the old if not worse PRI.

    We must get together for a coffee or glass of wine soon so that we may catch up!

    Un abrazo,


    From: Red Shoes are Better than Bacon Reply-To: Red Shoes are Better than Bacon Date: Sunday, August 5, 2018 at 21:47 To: Rick Hall Subject: [New post] AMLO Cardenas

    redshoesarebetterthanbacon posted: “July 1, 2018 Today was the biggest election in Mexican history. My thumb is inked, which means that I’ve cast my vote. So, I’m standing in line at the casilla at the public school three blocks from my house this morning, even before my morning coffee, t”


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