Denouncing populism, former Mexican President Vicente Fox called Americans to their best values during a speech at MSU Denver.
University President Janine Davidson introduced Fox to a packed auditorium in the King Center on Aug. 29. The event was presented by both MSU Denver and Global Chamber Denver. Fox touched on the value of international partnership, the importance of U.S. leadership and legacy of populism in Latin America. Gov. John Hickenlooper and Canadian Consul General Stéphane Lessard were also present as part of a panel discussion later in the program.
“You’re moving beyond the idea that this nation is stagnant. That the American dream is not real, any more. That’s false,” Fox said. “This nation is great, this nation is great, this nation is fantastic. This nation is the leader of the world. And the leader cannot abandon its responsibilities. A leader doesn’t build walls.”
The former president warned the audience to beware of promises made by false prophets to restore jobs and greatness. Fox drew explicit comparisons between the authoritarians who ruled Latin America through the 20th century and the current populist climate running through American politics today.
Fox also dropped a modified version of his now-famous catchphrase regarding President Trump’s proposed border wall during his speech. Casting the wall as an expression of fear and as a waste of time and money, Fox said to laughter, applause and cheers that Americans were “not paying for that fucking wall.”
One of the reasons Fox was brought to campus was to raise the university’s profile. He toured the new Aerospace Engineering Building that recently opened on campus. President Davidson said she hoped to show off how MSU Denver worked to strengthen the links between education and business to better train the next workforce generation and meet the needs of the community.
During the panel discussion hosted by Davidson and featuring Fox, Gov. Hickenlooper and Lessard, the debate over immigration was touched on. Hickenlooper said that the debate is caused in part by the changing world economy and the fact that the jobs that led to a stable middle class life in yesteryear are not the same jobs that lead to success today. As a result, people feel left behind. Some feel immigration is to blame as a result.
“Better to begin looking at training processes, different ways of education, so that we do educate those people that have been left behind,” Hickenlooper said. “We let them know that they are a priority, even as we begin to change their perception of immigrants, and what immigration means for the country. I think there’s a win-win solution there.”
Fox’s visit also presented itself as a good opportunity for students to work on honing their professional skills. Trevor Maniscolo, a student from the journalism department, was there to practice his reporting skills for the classroom bound Post-Telegraph. It’s a web-only publication used as a training platform for students from Lawrence Washington’s reporting class.
“A lot of times everybody covers A Taste of Colorado or something like that, but this was a great experience,” he said. “Being here with these politicians and all the press, it just kinda gives you an insight on what it would be like to work as a journalist.”
However, President Fox’s visit came at a time of great uncertainty for undocumented students on campus. The Trump administration canceled Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, putting the futures of at least 400 students at MSU Denver into question.
To those students, Fox had words of encouragement. Reminding students that demography is destiny, he said that the future of the United States belongs to leaders who will be minorities. He stressed the importance of education or else warned that the United States would suffer the consequences for failing to educate its people.
“One man, one guy cannot cut off our future. So, let’s fight for it. Let’s speak up. Let’s make our voice be heard very clearly,” he said. “As I said before, the future of this nation is in the hands of education. Good, solid, professional, sophisticated education. That is for every single citizen in this United States.”