With help from the audience former President Vicente Fox of Mexico along with Dr. Janine Davidson, MSU President, led a lively discussion mostly centered on his work during his post-presidency and his views on the role of North America in defending the values of Western Civilization. His comments on the profound changes overtaking the world served as a preface to a call for leadership to assure that important elements of our democratic and free enterprise institutions are not swept away in the process.
Fox came into power in 2000 by a populist movement centered around his conservative party, el Partido de Accion Nacional (PAN) that, for the first time, defeated the ruling party that had been in power for 71 years. That political revolt invigorated the Mexican political system as it allowed for the growth of other important parties representing the diverse aspirations of the electorate.
Fox indicated that populism this time around is taking countries away from democratic principles and into dictatorships. The best contemporary example of this is Venezuela.
Fox brought up Mexico as another example of populism gone wrong as Morena, President Lopez Obrador’s party, has succeeded in monopolizing power and greatly diminishing the voices of other political points of view.
Without saying it, Fox implied that the United States was yet another example of populism taking a country rogue. In this case, President Trump is pushing the Republican Party out of its orbit and into his personal extended family much like Lopez Obrador’s Morena in Mexico.
What was taken away in Venezuela and is being taken away in Mexico and the United States are the checks and balances provided by democratic institutions constitutionally designed to be separate and equal. This prevents the final say from being in the hands of the people at the ballot box.
The dominance of one party in Mexico that ruled for 71 years and broken up by former President Fox’s victory in 2000 appears to have been restored by Lopez Obrador and Morena. Fox points out this is happening at a critical time when Western Civilization is in danger of losing its leadership in the world.
Since it is clear that because of its own issues Europe is no longer able to lead the way, it is up to North America as the most powerful carrier of Western values to take on the task. The alternative is already very evident as in the absence of Europe and North America, China and its Asian counterparts are introducing a different economic, political and cultural system that challenges for leadership.
With regard to immigration, Fox feels that it is far better for families to remain at home and for the young people to concentrate on getting a university degree. The income from an entry-level U.S. job can be far less than a professional position in a Mexican growing economy.
On the issue of drugs, Fox stated that all drugs should be legalized and those working in the industry brought into a corporate system much like the manufacturing of cars. Moderation in their use should be left in the hands of the consumer.
One of the strongest statements made by Fox during his chat is the notion that “Nations belong to their citizens.” Citizens must attend to the “rear guard” because there is where you will find the “false prophets.”
In a democracy with checks and balances there must be a strong loyal opposition. This is part of the institutional network that guarantees our freedom.