To Dream*

Luis Rubio

To dream about achieving Nirvana in record time is always grandiose; to convince voters that this endeavor is possible, within reach, is what politicians do, above all campaigning candidates, all around the globe. If that is seasoned with attractive ideas such as a world without corruption and inequality, the approach would seem to be unbeatable. Politics is precisely that: promote better horizons and bring up the population to procure them.

But decades of great unsatisfied dreams should have convinced Mexicans by now that, without solid strategies and appropriate policies, this grandiosity results is being elusive and, frequently, counterproductive because it alienates voters and radicalizes them. As 2024 approaches, it would be best to start to see things backwards: instead of promising the impossible, future governments should develop the less attractive, the more aberrant, and the more dangerous scenarios, and to then back down from these and initiate a government project likely to transform the country. That is, to understand what it is that one would not wish to happen to make certain that the country will not arrive at that point.

How will Mexico look in 2030, at the end of the next government? Will the inertia have been overcome of a country divided into regions that run (or fall behind) at different velocities, a country that denies opportunities to those most in need and a country that absolves corruption instead of eradicating it? That is, will the foundations have been laid of a sustainable base of concord, peace, certainty and prosperity in which the entire population can participate and count on the conditions that make this possible? Rather than imagining a fantasy world that is often described during electoral campaigns, why not recognize that the current tendencies -nearly all bad- need to be reverted and corrected to end up much better than what exists today?

First, is to recognize the need to break with the dogmas that have paralyzed the country and led it to decades of lost opportunities, as well as to the recent political-economic zig-zag course. All this due to the unwillingness to acknowledge two elemental factors: first, that the country has advanced a great deal in recent decades but, in the same manner, that this advance has not included the entirety of the population nor is it prone to acquiring this in its current state. And second, that it is legitimate for people to be angry, fed up and upset at the lack of opportunities, mostly due to their social, economic and regional origin. Same with poverty, corruption, violence, and inequality, not only on moral grounds, but also in a practical sense: a society that confronts evils such as these is also a nation that knows where it is going and is disposed to get there.

The promises of the reformers (1982-2018) and the transformers (2018-today) -distinct words that are synonymous in practice – have not fulfilled their objective because the country does not have the basic capacities to transform itself nor the commitment of its political leadership to do what’s necessary to attain it. Beyond the vested interests that inhabit the political system and that have been victorious in impeding the success of reforms and transformations, the country does not have a government  likely to lead forward; an adequate educational system to bestow skills, vision and chances for the poorest and least favored populations; a public security system designed from the bottom up (and not the other way around) to consolidate a foundation of peace for the citizenry;  and a network of institutions that guarantee effective counterweights, a legal framework conceived to make possible a modern country that provides certainty and clarity of course. Though there are small examples of favorable results in nearly all these rubrics, the country today lacks the assets necessary to transform itself.

It is more than evident that none of the governments of the last decades ever meditated on the worst-case scenarios that could present, in that practically all the latter ended up yielding appreciably inferior results to those promised and, in some cases, dramatically worse. Their programs, projects and strategies were all conceived in willful fashion: if I will it, it will happen, thus falling into the most elementary of errors, believing that intentions equal results. No government of the last half century is free from that circumstance.

The countries that have truly transformed themselves -in terms of arriving at high income rates per capita,  eliminating (or frankly reducing) poverty and erecting serious, trustworthy and sound institutional scaffolding -that is to say, an environment prone for development and peace- share at least three crucial features: a) the edification of an efficient system of government (almost all following the example of Singapore and its imitators); b) an obsession with economic growth (and their consequent disposition to eliminate obstacles to make this possible); and c) an educational system conceived to transform the population and confer upon it the opportunities that had never before been possible.

It is not the time to dream, but to build that future and 2024 offers an exceptional opportunity to achieve it.


*From the new book ¡En sus marcas! México hacia 2024, Editorial Grijalbo, 2023