Play the game


It’s the fourth quarter on the basketball championship finals, your team is up by 5 points, there’s 20 seconds on the clock and the other team is about to throw the ball inbounds. What do you do?

It doesn’t take a genius to answer this question: you let the clock run as much as you can and just when the other team is about to try for a three-pointer, you foul them. You foul them because you want to make sure that they don’t get a chance at that three-pointer. You foul them because you want to force them to the free-throw line where at best, they’ll only get two points out of the play and you’ll have the ball back. And then, as soon as you serve the ball in, the other team is going to foul you because they would rather have YOU go to the free throw line then let you run the clock out.

No, it’s not glamorous or showy but it’s effective. And it’s what happens when people know the rules of the game, understand them and go out and play. And you know what you never see? You never see a team lose a game and blame it on “the other team cheated because they kept fouling us so we couldn’t get a three-pointer up.”

I didn’t vote for Enrique Peña Nieto. I don’t like that Peña Nieto is going to be the next president and I don’t like that PRI is going to be back in power. For me, they have not proven themselves worthy of it yet. I don’t like that Peña’s campaign allegedly coerced people into voting for the candidate. On that note, I also don’t like that the runner-up campaigned for over nine consecutive years on our dime. I don’t like that most likely ALL major parties exceeded campaign spending limits and I don’t like that many of our ballots are counted by civilian people who never had access to proper education so they don’t understand the instructions to fill out their reporting sheets, can’t add and don’t even know the difference between a field that asks you to put your name in and one that asks for the signature. I also think that we need to have better measures to punish candidates who draw outside the lines when it comes to campaign spending. Ironically, as it stands now, parties will most likely be imposed a monetary fine which they’ll pay for with money contributed by us, the taxpayers… so basically, we will once again pay for their broken plates.

BUT the fact is that all candidates knew the rules of the game way before this electoral campaign started. Is it shitty that Peña’s strategy was to play with his lead going into the campaign and that he kept fouling others before they were able to get their three-pointers out? YES. And I don’t like it. I also don’t like the fact that someone like López cannot man up and just take his defeat instead of whining because Peña fouled him. At least he is whining down the institutional road this time instead of taking the streets and inventing a parallel government to run his imaginary country like he did last time.

Everybody and the world has recognized Peña as the new president-elect. Electoral observers, the early exit polls, the quick count (conteo rápido), his candidacy rivals Vázquez and Quadri, the preliminary count (PREP), the actual count (conteo de actas distritales), the recount by IFE… hell, even Hugo Chavez has gone into the mix and congratulated our posterboy president for his victory. But not López.

What is López trying to achieve? He knows the TRIFE is going to declare that Peña will be President and that in the path he’s chosen he has no chance of coming out on top and yet he marches on. Why? Some possible answers (but you would have to ask him and then there’s the question of actually believing what he would tell you):

  • He is delusional or naïve enough to actually think that he can overturn the elections.
  • He thinks that this will spark enough anger into the social opposition groups (Anonymous, YoSoy132 and others, including all the people who put themselves at risk and participated in Sunday’s megamarcha because they believed in one or many of the objectives it stood for) to topple the establishment and after a “Mexican Spring” we would ask him to lead us into a better tomorrow.
  • He thinks that this will keep him relevant in the political sphere and does not want to go out the backdoor with nothing to hold onto.
  • He thinks that this is the best way he can stay true to his cause and make a name for himself, establish his legacy in Mexican history as the guy who would not give up and tried to change things for the better, break down the walls of the establishment, shatter the power monopoly, etc. etc. etc. I just hope it doesn’t break his heart when people just refer to him as stubborn.
  • He knows, recognizes and honors the rules of the game and he is intelligent enough to realize that he can prolong this post-electoral conflict long enough to actually do some damage for Peña Nieto’s tenure and taint it (even more than Peña has tainted it himself by allegedly buying his way into power) enough for PRD to win the next elections.

I’m certain that there are many other possible reasons and if you’d like to share them here you are welcome to. Here are some more thoughts on the subject at hand:

  • What hurt López the most in this campaign was the fact that he could not brush off the bad rep he got for his 2006 tantrum. What hurt PRD the most in this campaing was that it chose López over Ebrard.
  • The “most people did not vote for Peña Nieto” soundbite has no place in a country that does not have a runoff election. Relative majority determines who wins in our democracy… Oh, and if the PRD had supported Calderon’s initiative for political reform which included a runoff election, López might be president-elect today.
  • Even if the Sorianagate thing is true, this apparently amounts (with the information we have today) to around 6,000 votes at most which really does not put a dent in the final results of voting.
  • The rules of the game CAN and SHOULD be improved. Fernando Elizondo (a politician from Nuevo León) has even drafted a proposal on how these rules should be changed so that instead of monetary fines, actual votes are discounted (of course there needs to be a HUGE debate on the legal and voter representation implications of this but it should at least be on the table). But even if and when you change the rules everybody knows that these CANNOT be retroactive so they would not apply to the 2012 electoral process.

So play the game and keep at it but if you’re not able to get to the three-point line and get the ball in the basket enought times to win, at least be mature enough to recognize that this is mostly because of your shortcomings. And go back to the training room because guess what? You  still have another game to play tomorrow.

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