Saturday, June 10, 2006



I have spent the last few weeks in my native California and observed the recent Governor's race.

Since the days of Franklin Roosevelt and Lazaro Cardenas, the Mexican PRI and the U.S. Democrats have portrayed themselves as the party of economic opportunity for the poor. Over the decades, both of these parties developed enduring legislative majorities, and became more interested in the careers of its members than in service to its stated constituency.

Time and again these parties have nominated the most internally powerful politico rather than the most popular candidate. In 1988 this led to the defection of Cuauhtemoc Cardenas and the creation of the PRD. For this election cycle, the PRI neglected candidates with better credentials (e.g., Gordillo, Montiel) because the Madrazo, the internal power broker, wanted the power of the presidency for himself.

This week the California Democrats exhibited similar tendencies. The bright young star of gubernatorial hopeful Steve Westly was extinguished. He had great credentials on the environment, choice, and education, with only one fatal flaw. The public employee unions and Senators Boxer and Feinstein had already picked their candidate: real estate developer and fund-raising guru Phil Angelides. Westly used his personal fortune from EBay to build an early double digit lead. The campaign turned negative, most voters stayed home, but the unions brought out their rank and file, and when the dust cleared, Angelides had won. Perhaps, it is more accurate to say, Angelides got the Democrat nomination, the right to face Republican Arnold Schwartzenegger in November. Polls consistently showed Westly ahead of Schwartznegger, but Angelides trailing the incumbant governor. The Democrats shot themselves in the foot, again.

Angelides and Madrazo were powerful enough to get their parties' nominations, but will lose in an open election. As the PRI has been supplanted by the PRD, so the U.S. Democrats will be supplanted by a party that cares more about its real constituencies than its members. I am not saying that Lopez Obrador will win next month: I am still predicting his loss. Indeed, he is probably not the best representative of the PRD really serving the poor. (We have numerous homegrown examples here in Guerrero.)


Post a Comment

<< Home