For Bismarck, the great German chancellor, politicians“never lie as much as before elections, during a war, and after a hunt”. The citizen’s task on an election day such as today is to elucidate among the poses, proposals, images and… lies. Anything goes in an election and the one that ends today was no exception. Now is the time for citizen responsibility.
The candidates did their job and today it’s the citizen’s turn to choose. Like six years ago, over the past several days there have been attempts to generate an ambience of disqualification of the electoral processes. Different from then, today the surveys show very distinct numbers that confer greater assurance on the democratic exercise. The two candidates in the lead do not put economic stability at play as was done previously. The advance on this front is solid and the threat of regression in economic matters has receded to such a degree that it did not comprise a relevant theme in the election.
Today the tessitura is distinct: it is lodged between the past and the future: reconstruct what worked before or construct a distinct platform oriented toward the future. The reality is that despite the democratic advances that have in effect been made, we are far from living under a consolidated democratic regime. The politicians did not fulfill their responsibility of constructing institutions that, on affording solidity and predictability to decision-making processes, would eliminate the risk of instability that always accompanies moments of political transition. With our votes, the citizens now have to force the politicians to construct the key institutions that are necessary for the development, stability and rapid growth of the economy.
Of the three main contending candidates that present themselves today before the electorate, one has not ceased to exert a threat in terms of rejectingthe results on election day and another represents a contingency that aspires to regain power and never let go of it again. Both are emblematic of the immaturity that continues to characterize our political reality. In consolidated democracies what is in dispute is a small change of focus that places in doubt neither the population’s daily lives nor the country’s stability. Regrettably, everyday debates among Mexicans during recent weeks reveal that we are far from having reached the point at which that the latter would be true. The very fact that stability (or the risk of the return of the PRI) is a topic of discussion is telling in itself.
In the face of this, the citizenry must choose the best option, or combination of options, which casts certainty on the future. The case of the economy is illustrative: although this has improved systematically over the past years (in fact, 2011 was the year of the greatest job creation in our entire history), disputes prevail concerning the course that this should follow. In the proposals heard throughout the campaigns one candidate idealized the past, another proposed a return to what worked before and yet another offered an approach for tackling the future. That is, despite that Mexico is basking in one the best circumstances of economic matters in the world at this moment, effervescence runs high.
Behind many of the proposals the idea is found, very deep-rooted in two of the parties, that it is possible to reconstruct distinct moments of our history (above all the sixties or the seventies, respectively) instead of facing up to the challenge represented by the complex world we live in. A better alternative would be to make the wave of change that has characterized the world in this half century our own: to really take hold of it and break with the obstacles that this so very polarized and contrasting economy has generated in which one part grows rapidly while the other languishes without course nor opportunity. The apparent differences may appear to be small, but thisconcerns a radical difference in focus and vision. The question is how to make certain that the country advances towards the consolidation of a platform of growth with equal opportunity to all. The vote is a limited, albeit exceptional, instrument for that.
The dilemma in today’s elections resides in the what for of the government and what this implies for the future of the country. The difference lies in the attempt to reconstruct that idyllic past or to sever from, once and for all, the impediments to growth that persist, many of these engendered in that idyllic world of many decades ago that, as Cervantes said so well, was never such.
I, for one, have no doubt whatsoever: Mexico must look ahead, leaving the past in the history books. The key to the future does not reside in restoring but rather in liberating and in providing the citizenry –the individual, the entrepreneur, the worker- with instruments for competing in a globalized world in which the capacity for adding value is determined by the quality of education (and the nature of this), the functionality of the physical and human infrastructure and the links with the rest of the world. The citizen today has the opportunity and the responsibility of constructing with his or her vote their votes the equilibriums that best contribute to achieving this: a different party in the presidency and in the legislature
In decades past, Mexico abandoned the introspective economic model because the latter had ceased to be viable. Today we begin to see the results of decades of transformation and, for the first time in a long time, the future appears exceedingly promising. This is the moment to take the great leap forward toward the future.
It goes without saying that Mexico needs a competent government dedicated to building the political and structural conditions so that the economy can prosper at a much higher clip than we’ve experienced lately. Mexicans also need limited government, properly constrained by checks and balances, that avoids and hinders excess and abuse or backtracking, given that the immature democracy that today exists make that feasible. Mexico has to take the last stride: to construct the platform of a modern nation in the context of freedom, in which the creativity of the people can thrive in the form of entrepreneurial activity to which all have access.
The choice in this election is very clear: return to what was and that did not work, or take the great leap, but with clear governmental stewardship, toward the change that did not gel in the final analysis of this last decade but that is necessary and, to a great extent, unstoppable. Each and every voter will have to determine the best combination of votes that would make politicians act.
I have already stated my preference of candidate in a previous article, as well as of formula: president and congress of different parties. The task of the voter today is to make a decision and go cast a vote for the candidate that can resolutely advance –and will have no choice but to do so- in this direction and to create conditions that make a different future possible. Responsibility for the result will be all his.