Saturday, April 16, 2011

How a Non-Democrat Remains Popular in a Democracy

Macario Schettino has a theory on why AMLO supporters overlook his foibles:
The interesting part of this issue isn't that Señor Andrés Manuel López Obrador is authoritarian, dishonest, and associates with thugs (there are other politicians like that). What is striking is that his followers are with him precisely because of that. Although it seems unbelievable, those who support him insist that he can change this country thanks to his moral superiority.

This is surely an issue for further study. The reason for many thousands of people closely following and celebrating an autocrat and a self-mythologizer as a leader, arguing that moral superiority, deserves a deep investigation. How they manage to reconcile the supposed democratic character of the leader with his authoritarian actions, how they can believe in the affirmations of a demonstrated liar, how they can think a person who has been demonstrated a person very close to corruption will confront corruption, those are all great mysteries.

The hypothesis that best explains this phenomenon, it seems to me, is the conversation of the señor López Obrador in a "mythic hero" on the part of his followers. For them, it's not important what he does, but rather what he represents, and therefore his actions aren't evaluated on their own terms, but rather with respect to utopia, which in this case is a sort of recovery of revolutionary national in the abstract. And because his actions don't make sense on the merits, they are not bound by legality. That's why the señor López Obrador and his followers live on the margin of the law: they block roads, they impede Congressional sessions, they publicize the image of their leader despite the spirit of the electoral law. Nothing matters, because the reality is irrelevent, the only thing that exists is the utopia.

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