A Crisis of Trust in Democratic Institutions

Nadin Brzezinski
6 min readFeb 22, 2019

The other day I took a a few taxis in Mexico City. Unlike rides in the United States, in Mexico conversations often turn to politics, economics, and trust in the government. After all, Mexico has a long history of distrust, with good reason. However, the conversation I had with several taxi drivers, I could have had at a libertarian rally or a Trump Rally. In fact, I had similar conversations with Sanders voters in 2016.

We have a crisis of trust in Democratic institutions across the Western World. This leads to the rise of populist governments, that promise to fix what ails these governments that failed the people. What is driving this is lack of transparency by governments, very real corruption and regulatory capture. It is also driven by the rise of monopolistic practices that leave consumers very little real choice in products they buy and have led to flat wages (for all intents and purposes) in many nations, not just the United States.

Like Donald Trump, Manuel Lopez Obrador painted himself as the savior of the nation. He was uniquely qualified to solve this crisis of governance and drain the swamp. His language was different, but in the end, it translates to the same. He also promised to lower the price of fuel, such as natural gas and gasoline. Neither of these has occurred, and in fact, they are still rising every month. For him, this was the equivalent of the promise to build the wall and get rid of Obamacare. Incidentally, Obrador also promised to deliver on true universal health care Mexico, and will, in the process, get rid of the Popular Insurance program that is closer to universal health care than anything that exists in the United States.

The reason I am bringing up his campaign promises is that people in higher social strata were not impressed, but the people were. Lopez Obrador, unlike Trump, was elected to the presidency in vast numbers. Mexico’s electoral college only certifies the election, and the presidency is by direct popular vote.

Granted, one of the drivers I spoke with has been a member of the PRI all his life, so not being impressed comes with the territory. I am also taking taxis in an area that is a stronghold of the PRI, to a lesser extent the PAN. This would be like talking to a yellow dog Democrat who will be critical of any Republican as…

Nadin Brzezinski

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game. You can find me at CounterSocial, Mastodon and rarely FB