Luis Rubio

Biden is a rare specimen in the world of politics. Despite his chronological years and his (historical) discursive dyslexia, he has proven to be masterful in legislative matters and, although not recognized for it, he has advanced an agenda in a much more successful manner than would have seemed possible within a context of enormous polarization. The tangible fact is that Biden has altered the economic policy as well as the foreign policy of his country. The verdict regarding the goodness of these changes has yet to be discerned, but whatever it may be, Mexico will see itself impacted.

Beyond personalities, Biden shares a characteristic with Reagan, his predecessor in the eighties. Reagan was a great actor, an extraordinarily talented orator, but without the least pretense of being a profound intellectual, as was Adlai Stevenson (twice a presidential candidate in the fifties) or Barack Obama. Nor does Biden entertain the least intellectual aspiration, he stands, as Reagan did, for a set of very clear and simple principles that orient their decisions and their manner of acting. Of course, Biden’s principles are radically distinct from those of Reagan, given that he has not only broken with the notion of the United States as the main promoter of the world economy, but instead advocated for promoting an introspective industrial policy and protecting unionized workers.

Bidenomics, as his economic strategy has come to be known, is nothing other than a coarse way of promoting, through massive subsidies, the installation of manufacturing plants for high-technology goods, especially sophisticated processors, and sustainable energy, as part of his strategy of competing with China. This economic thrust complements the aggressive foreign policy of confrontation with China that Trump, his immediate predecessor, had launched, but now financed with huge fiscal subsidies. That is, the government (or, well, the taxpayers) subsidizes great enterprises to stop the fabrication of technological goods in China, Taiwan, and other latitudes.

In the 2022 mid-term elections Biden’s party lost control of the House of Representatives, whose new majority has been experiencing one convulsion after another in attempting to elect a leadership that ties in with the Trump cult that has come to dominate the Republicans. Despite that obstacle, Biden has achieved, at least to date, avoiding Congress declaring the bankruptcy of the U.S. government on not authorizing the debt limits required. But what is relevant is that, despite the obstacles and the uncertainty of his policies in economic as well as foreign matters, Biden has been able to advance once and again.

In addition to inflation the electorate does not pardon his age. Biden is an octogenarian who, on winning the next election would end his mandate at the age of 86 years. Although Trump is only three years younger, the difference between them in the capacity for communication is without doubt noticeable. This circumstance has led numerous observers and potentials contenders within his own Democratic circuit to call for him to renounce re-election in favor of another, younger alternative.

Biden is an enigma in the electoral sense. Those of us who have observed him over the decades know that his discursive capacity is extraordinarily limited and infinite in his propensity for committing gaffes. In the eighties, as pre-candidate, he was caught plagiarizing a speech, which excluded him from the contest at that moment. Forty years later he surprised half the world on defeating Trump, who will probably again be the contender for the November election.

For Mexico, the U.S. is not only its principal export market but also its principal growth engine through those same exports. Its future depends on the capacity to tighten those links, while expanding and generalizing these throughout the entire national territory, in that the revenue that the exports generate translate into incomes for increasingly more Mexicans. The problem is that this logic is not linear: in his eagerness to safeguard companies with unionized workers, Biden threatens to exclude diverse Mexican products, especially in the automotive realm, from the terms of the commercial treaty that regulates the bilateral economic relationship.

Perhaps the greatest challenge for Mexico lies in that AMLO, the current President, has objectives that are not in sync with the best economic interest of his own country.  In contrast with Biden, who (successfully) has been able to skirt the vast sources of confrontation within the U.S. society for advancing his agenda, AMLO sees no reason to even attempt to be the president of all Mexicans: better to polarize and confront than to advance the development of the country.

Mexico, as a middle-power nation, but with an outstandingly long border and an exceedingly wealthy neighbor, whosoever it is governing it, has the option of deciding to take advantage of the opportunity that this constitutes or pretend that its future would be more successful by joining the losers of the South of the continent. As at other crucial moments of Mexico’s history, the dilemma is real; the question is whether whoever governs Mexico from next October on will understand the magnitude of the challenge.