The Results from New Hampshire: More Bad News for Mexico?

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    Pamela Starr

    Donald Trump’s “huge” win in the New Hampshire primary makes it clear that he is in the race for the long haul. He scored this victory in a state full of centrist Republicans and where the economy is performing better than the nation as a whole. And then there is the weak showing of Marco Rubio and the rest of the “establishment” republicans who neatly split nearly half the vote opening the door to Trump’s nearly 20-point margin of victory.

    This result means that the Republican nomination process will be a cat-fight for weeks to come, and raises the question of who, if anyone, can stop Trump. And on the heels of Ted Cruz’s upset victory in the Iowa caucus last week, the New Hampshire results make clear that the anti-immigrant rhetoric that has played a central role in the republican primary process will persist for at least another 90 days.

    Dissatisfaction with and distrust of traditional politicians was also the message sent loudly and clearly by voters on the democratic side, lifting Bernie Sanders to a landslide victory over Hillary Clinton. Not only did he win by over 20 points, he defeated her in nearly every demographic.

    Still, at the end of the day, the biggest loser (beyond the traditional political elite) seems to be the corporate, and especially the financial, elite. Both Trump and Sanders present themselves as the candidate of the little guy who interests have suffered at the hands of a corporate/financial elite, and both flaunt their lack of fundraising reliance on corporate America. The irony of this for Mexico is that corporate America is arguably the most pro-Mexico segment of the U.S. political landscape in terms of its policy preferences for expanded trade and immigration.

    Do you agree? Disagree? What is the meaning of New Hampshire for the US, for Mexico, and for the bilateral relationship?

    John Ackerman

    The New Hampshire results are an enormous breath of fresh air. Bernie Sanders is the only candidate in the running who actually understands the plight of Mexican and Latin American immigrants in the United States and has a humane, people-centered approach to foreign policy.

    Hillary Clinton is much worse than Barack Obama both with regard to her 100% corporate treatment of Latin America and her opportunistic use of minority and immigrant issues in the United States.

    Obama has destroyed healthy relations between the United States and Mexico by focusing exclusively on corporate, energy and security relations and ignoring human rights, democracy and corruption, thereby being actively complicit with the destruction of the social fabric, peace and governance south of the Rio Grande.

    The most “pro-Mexico segment” of the “U.S. political landscape” is by no means “corporate America”, but the almost 35 million MEXICANS who live and work in the United States.

    It is time for the United States to have a president who actually RESPECTS Mexico and Latin America, and their citizens, for who they are instead of only USING them to strengthen “corporate America”.

    As to Trump. He would be a disaster, of course, but no worse than the other guys on the Republican side, and his frank fascism and racism might even be paradoxically positively for Latin America in general, and Mexico in particular, by strengthening the democratic nationalism it so desperately needs to defend the public health and general welfare of its population.

    Here is a recent video-interview in which I speak to some of these issues:


    Colin Hale

    The results of the New Hampshire primary (and whichever candidate becomes president-elect this November) is, in my view, less important than which party secures the House and Senate in 2017.

    With all House seats up for grabs and a sizable chunk of Senate seats, too, the next Congress will have the opportunity to end a Year of Idiocy in regards to our relationship with Mexico.

    For the Senate, that opportunity is fairly straightforward and obvious: Stop the obstruction and appoint an ambassador to Mexico. Preferably Roberta Jacobson, although that ship might have already sailed.

    This lack of an appointment signals to Mexico – and the Mexican people – that their interests are not of critical importance. We’ve been down this road before, and it’s not beneficial for either country.

    Simply put, appointing a respected ambassador like Jacobson will do far more to improve the image of the United States in the hearts and minds of Mexicans and Mexican Americans than likely any other vote this year.

    Furthermore, a change in the House and Senate – coupled with a Clinton or Sanders presidency – could potentially signal opportunities for meaningful immigration, drug policy and criminal justice reforms. Doing our part on our soil to end Mexico’s drug violence would do wonders to improve America’s image.

    On the topic of Trump: it’s clear his xenophobic comments coupled with success in New Hampshire (and potential success in South Carolina, etc.) will only further hurt America’s image in Mexico, and indeed, all of Latin America. The middle class Colombians I spoke to last month were only slightly less worried about the rumors of Trump buying the local soccer team, Atletico Nacional, than they were about a possible Trump presidency. I suspect similar views on Trump are carried widely throughout the hemisphere.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 8 months ago by Colin Hale.
    Eric Rojo

    In addressing both comments to Pam’s posting, it is very perplexing to read such fantasies in relation to our current election process from pretend Mexican experts who obviously are either absolutely ignorant of our electoral process (Ackerman) and how American foreign policy fits into our politics in and out of the real role of the Congress (Hale).

    First, the two primary events so far are a combined product of a campaign fuelled by the media -who in order to sell its news- has been leading the pre-pre primary process (and the wannabe candidates have followed like a bunch of sheep). there is an interesting contrast between the democrat and republican pre candidates that is in reality fascinating. the supposedly progressive and populist Democrat Party produced 4 standard candidates with just about zero diversity (even if Hollywood has not complained as to the lack of minority candidates), all “white”, product of the establishment -claims to the contrary are baseless- and offering little choice. Sanders, a supposedly honest ‘socialist’ who in reality has not matured past his teenage level of maturity (please read the bellow article from professor Deming) and Hillary Clinton (Blond ambition) who continues to morph faster than a chameleon; who even with the full backing of the democrat establishment, pretend President Obama and tons of money is not a credible candidate (being a woman is not a valid credential alone) and is most likely to at least be indicted and should go to jail for her arrogance of ignoring the nations security regulations as Secretary of State.

    As to the relations with Mexico, I agree that Hillary is not an asset (but then, for some reason Mexicans are always delusional about democrats being good for Mexico when reality is that the best relations and deals for Mexico have been consistently a product of Republican presidents. Having said this, in the current lineup, Trump, Cruz, and lately Rubio (who along with democrat senator Melendez are alone, holding hostage the approval of Roberta Jacobson) are poison to the US Mexico relationship, and to many other issues. This leaves us with Kasich and Bush.

    and there is no illusion as to what Ronald Reagan and the two Bush presidents have done for Mexico, (yes, Clinton did see the light and finally agreed to follow Bush’s 41 lead and finalised the NAFTA treaty). Bush 43, with a long and positive record in its relations with Mexico as governor of Texas, followed these efforts as President. Two days before 9/11 he and President Fox agreed to work a solution for Mexican workers before the end of their terms. Later, in spite of the poisoning in the media and congress demonising the US-Mexico border as the root of all evils, President Bush forwarded an proposal to regularise Mexican workers and put order in the temporary worker program. Jeb Bush is even closer to Mexico, his wife is Mexican (not Latina as democrats try to dilute the presence of Mexicans in the US political landscape) and his children who are bonafide Mexican Americans.

    of all the current candidates, the only one who Mexicans, Central and South Americans should put their hopes on is Jeb Bush. The rest are either candidates to set back the relationship even further than Barack Obama or candidates headed for a train wreck.

    following, is the note posted on Facebook by one of my Army fellow Vietnam pilots.

    OU professor: Youths’ attraction to Sanders shows education failure
    By David Deming Published: January 30, 2016
    It’s disheartening that an avowed socialist is a viable candidate for president of the United States. Socialism is a dead end. For hundreds of years, it has failed everywhere it’s been adopted. The enthusiasm of our youth for the candidacy of Bernie Sanders is a symptom of our failure to educate them, not only in history, government and economics, but also basic morality.
    You don’t have to be a student of ancient history to know socialism doesn’t work. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 was an unequivocal demonstration of the moral and economic superiority of capitalism. The misery caused by socialism is unfolding today in Venezuela. Since Venezuela embraced socialism in 1999, poverty, crime and corruption have all increased. Grocery shelves are empty and the annual inflation rate is estimated to be as high as 200 percent.
    The United States is a constitutional republic founded on political equality, not equality of income or circumstances. Our system of government was designed to secure the natural rights of its citizens. These rights include not only “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” but the right to acquire and maintain private property. The Founding Fathers considered property rights to be sacred and
    Under capitalism, goods and services are distributed through private, voluntary exchanges. When people engage in volitional transactions, everyone benefits. If we believe a transaction is in our best interest, we have an incentive to maintain good relations with those with whom we’re trading. Thus a society based on freedom and trading promotes good will and civility. Our free-market system has produced the greatest prosperity in human history.
    There are no property rights under socialism. Goods and services are distributed by force through political means. Everything you possess is subject to confiscation and redistribution. Industrious and productive people are punished; parasites are rewarded. When people come to believe they have a right to goods and services produced by other people, society disintegrates into squabbling factions. If socialism is allowed to progress to its logical extreme, it culminates in a military dictatorship like North Korea.
    What about so-called “crony capitalism”? This is nothing more than socialism that benefits the wealthy and influential. It’s just as wrong as any other form of socialism. The cure is to limit government power. Human nature is corruptible. If government has the power to redistribute wealth, it will always act in the interests of the powerful segments of society. What made America great is not progressive government, but the genius and industry of a people freed from arbitrary power by the chains placed upon government by our Constitution.
    Socialism isn’t so much a legitimate economic system as it is a moral failing. It will always exist because ignorant people will always want something for nothing. If we want to retain our freedom and prosperity, then we must educate our children that the purpose of government is to secure liberty, not provide free lunches.
    Deming ( is a professor of arts and sciences at the University of Oklahoma.

    Jessica De Alba

    I guess I don’t have anything else to add, after what was said by Col. Rojo. Only that hopefully, the undesired candidates (Trump, Cruz, and the two Democrats) will fall during the primaries. And yes, that absurd idea that Democrat Presidents are better for Mexico, has no base whatsoever.

    Carlos Ahumada

    After reading all past comments on this issue, I would like to thank again the USC Mex Network staff for their effort in promoting this exchange of ideas and political analysis…

    Regarding New Hampshire’s result, I agree with what Mr. Rojo has already said: full media coverage of primary events is no more than a win-win situation both for media and politicians. If anything, they are useful for pre candidates to modify their political platforms according to how they are doing on polls (Hillary becoming “more progressive” trying to take a portion of what Sanders has already won among young voters). I know it’s how politics work and candidates have to modify their ideas to win an election, but this only shows that platforms are very very flexible and that we no longer have neither in the US or Mexico politicians with clear convictions on what a country needs.

    I would also like to adress what Mr. Ackerman said regarding that it is time for the US to have a president that respects Mexico, and how Obama’s administration has “destroyed the healthy relationship with Mexico”. We cannot deny that Mexico is a very important country for the US, not only in geopolitical terms, but in many others. However, we as Mexicans have always had this fantasy that the US SHOULD take us into account, SHOULD be very concerned about what is going in the other side of the border. Nothing further from truth. American politicians respond to American citizens and American politicians will be concerned of what’s happening in Mexico only when the situation might put at risk their constituents in any sense. Regardless of the Mexican agenda of the next president, if any, Congress will have the last word on the actions that the US may or may not take to improve the relationship through bilateral cooperation. Congressmen respond to their constituents: all politics is local.

    The first step that Mexican authorites can take to improve the relationship is to realize our actual position in the US political framework, and start working from there.

    Juan Espinoza

    The question that Dr. Starr initially poses is an important one in so much as we address whether it’s underlying assumptions are correct in the first place. Expansion of trade and immigration do not have to be our only drivers of bolstering the bilateral relationship – nor do they always lie as mutually positive actions in the agenda from the perspective of corporate interests. By now we have learned the paradox of global capitalism in that borders exist for human bodies but not for capital. While capital flies freely across borders, massive inequality, displacement, isolation, and disenfranchisement of human communities seems to have become the norm of our modern global social fabric. Corporate interests want to see trade expanded, yet gridlocked immigration reform in the eyes of the private sector might provide the benefit of an informal and exploited undocumented economy and cheaper labor staying abroad.

    This also makes us ask the question of whom we strengthen the bilateral relationship for? If we strengthen corporate ties, then we can potentially see a boom in the private sector strength of both countries – supported by mutual trade expansion. Does this mean issues of poverty, equitable development, and sustainable growth is resolved as a result? No. The spread of unrestricted neoliberal economics around the world has in fact (supported by a plethora of development studies) resulted in greater disparity and inequality around the world.

    As to what continues with this election and the relative precarious position in which Mexican identity lies at this current moment in history the situation will prove to be more damaging and detrimental than we have yet determined. As the son of Mexican immigrants in Southern California, I grew up in a country in which I systemically learned to question my value – strongly aided by media narratives. As an American now living in Mexico City, I see the deeper level of inequality and vulnerability that has resulted in the double precarious state of working class people displaced by economic, social, political, and media factors affecting people who live in Mexico and those who have been pushed north like my family. On neither side of the border is the discussion proactive or healthy.

    The current election has made Mexican identity a salient issue of our national rhetoric and further expanded the stereotypical notion of “immigrant” as a “problem,” Mexico as a wave of “crime, impunity, and danger,” and “Mexican” as ultimately questionable and up for evaluation. The people in the most precarious position who currently have to endure this situation are Mexicans in the United States who have to assume and live out their “Mexican” identity as immigrants.

    Coming from, and still continuing to move in and out of working class circles of Mexican immigrants, I see a real vein of concerns and stress induced by national anit immigrant rhetoric. I have been asked too many times how serious a threat a Trump candidacy truly is. I have been asked too many times, “will we be ok?” My answer is always yes, but I can’t revel in the fact that I have gained this reassurance by the rare opportunities afforded me, which now allow me to participate in this discussion. The reassurance I have comes from a deeper belief that I have agency and that I can work with people to make sure that this is the result we have. Most people that are most deeply affected by these denigrating notions of identity do not have the opportunities that have afforded me this kind of personal / intellectual reassuring agency and self-determination. This is not to say that these vulnerable communities with whom I identify are neither aware nor unable to intellectually realize that they are instruments in this political-economic system, they know it and they feel it, but they can’t reconcile it with whether or not they will be ok.

    At the end of the day, I hope 2016 does galvanize and bolster the Latino vote in the United States in a way that we can redefine and better answer the questions of wellbeing for vulnerable communities on both sides of the border. While “Mexican” identity continues to be a xenophobic lynchpin of our globally transmitted national election, vulnerable communities within the United States continue to lose — and the United States in the eyes of the world further falls as an almost unreal dystopian emblem of hateful and dangerously violent power…

    Bonnie Palifka

    With all due respect, Carlos, what happens in Mexico does affect US constituents, be they Mexican immigrants or descendants (Juan) or not. The war on drugs, largely abandoned by the developed countries, has been exported and continues to rage on in Mexico (with Mérida initiative funds) and other less developed countries, but has not been able to stem the tide of addiction in the US. The worse the Mexican economy does, the more ninis will be recruited into organized crime. Mexican exports to the US and imports from the US may not be a large part of US GDP, but do play an important role in the US economy, so the state of the Mexican economy matters for that reason, as well.

    I’m not saying that the United States is responsible for Mexico, nor that the US can or should solve Mexico’s deep economic, political, and social problems. I’m only saying that the US and Mexico have a symbiotic relationship, and that the US cannot simply dismiss Mexico or Mexicans. Better relations between these countries would go a long way toward improving the lives of Mexicans and Americans alike. Mexican-bashing or protectionism would not further such relations.

    Carlos Ahumada

    Absolutely, Bonnie. However, I think this perspective on how important is Mexico for the US (I totally agree with you in the symbiotic relationship description and would add some more examples than the ones you kindly provided) is limited to policy makers and people involved in political analysis; it definitely needs to reach to a greater share of US population in order to activate a strategy with an effective bilateral agenda…

    Bonnie Palifka

    I agree, Carlos. This is an area where ProMéxico could do more: rather than just promote Mexico’s products, undertake a publicity campaign to improve Mexico’s image in the US. Most voters get their information from the various media forms, rather than the numerous economic studies that show Mexican immigrants have a positive net impact on US GDP.

    I guess the broader question is whether hard power or soft power is more effective in solving the “problems” that Trump and Sanders use in their campaigns. I favor soft power over their hard power responses (build a wall or increase protective measures), but it doesn’t look like any candidate has a much better agenda regarding Mexico. At least Sanders has a more humanistic attitude, as John Ackerman pointed out. Sanders may be nationalist, but not blindly so.

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