As told to THINK editor Meredith Bennett-Smith, edited and condensed for clarity.
America is great. It's always been great — we don’t need to “make it great again”. I actually think that it’s always going to be great. But I want to emphasize that America could be greater if it sees itself as more than just the United States, if it sees itself as a part of a larger America. All all of us together — Canada, the United States and Mexico, The North American continent — could be the strongest, most competitive region in the world and the largest consumer market in the world.
But not with President Donald Trump.
The first day Trump spoke about Mexico and Mexicans, I felt very, very bad. Mexico doesn't deserve these insults, we don't deserve all the qualifications and the adjectives that he has used to describe us. Calling us criminals. Calling us rapists.
In 2016, Trump offended 120 million Mexicans. And as a representative of Mexico, I’m here to make it clear that the real Mexico is different. We are still one of the largest economies in the world. We are a solid nation with a solid future. Mexico is a reliable partner to United States.
Crime in Mexico is high, this is true. It is also high in the United States. But we will never fix this problem if the United States doesn’t acknowledge that it is the highest consumer of drugs. I actually believe that similarly with alcohol and tobacco, the way forward is to legalize drugs and regulate the drug market — this is the best solution to the crime and violence we are seeing now. Take away the money from the cartels. Put that money in the hands of well-run governments so that we can use it to help build a better world: more science, more medicine, more technology, more innovation, better infrastructure, more schools, a better way of life for everyone.
Trump is so selfish and so prideful that he would rather die than go back on a campaign promise.
The problem with Trump is that he just can’t help himself. He can’t see anything past his ego. He's so selfish and so prideful that would rather die than go back on a campaign promise. And what he promised is simply not good for the United States. This is a man who campaigned on racism. He campaigned by attacking others, by offending others. He campaigned on the idea that the United States should isolate itself from the rest of the world.
So, the principles and the proposals that helped push Trump into the White House just don't correspond with the greatness of this American nation. Instead of really trying to make it greater, he’s stubbornly trying to go backwards. He's relying on nativism and trying to sell the impossible, a wall on the southern border paid for by Mexico. Mexico will never ever pay for this wall. You can believe me on that.
Meanwhile, as Trump continues to talk on and on about a fantasy wall that will never happen, the reputation of the United States continues to suffer. It’s terrible. There is now a strong consensus from the rest of the world that, for the first time, the leader of the free world — the president of the United States — is not knowledgeable and is not aware of what's going on.
This is particularly true on trade. Trump seems to not be aware that outside of the U.S., countries are growing much faster than the U.S is growing. The growth of other global economies can also benefit the U.S., yet Trump continues to attack his international allies and criticize them in a way that will not allow the U.S. to benefit from global wealth-building.
He simply doesn’t understand the way trade works. He doesn’t understand that through trade, all nations can benefit, that all citizens can create and have jobs, that poverty can be decreased and wealth can be increased overall.
As Trump continues to talk about a fantasy wall that will never happen, the reputation of the United States continues to suffer.
And don’t get me started on his war-mongering rhetoric. If there is another international conflict, it’s likely he would be the one to cause it. Because he is so aggressive, so rude, so uncaring about other people. He doesn't understand dialogue. Although he calls himself the best deal maker in the world, his "deal-making" is terribly wrong. This is a man who thinks you make a good deal when you destroy your opponent. He views life as a zero-sum game. That's absolutely false. You make a good deal when both sides feel like they have won.
Remember, I know what it’s like to lead a country. And my advice to Trump is to get out of politics. Go back to your family business. Let America and the world move along. Let those who truly care keep building a better future for all humankind.
I heard the Dalai Lama speak recently. He said, "the world belongs to 8 billion people," meaning it belongs to all humanity. It does not belong to any one individual, or any one nation. Ultimately, nations belong to their citizens, and this is something Trump just doesn't understand.
He thinks the United States is his toy and that he can play around with this great nation. He will pay a price for that. And Americans will pay a price if Trump is allowed to go unchecked. Indeed, the entire world is already paying a price because of Trump’s divisive rhetoric.
Trump said the American Dream was dead. He’s a liar. The American Dream is alive. I believe with all my heart that all of us were created equal, that all of us are free and deserving of happiness and respect. But here’s the thing: if you believe in the greatest of American ideals, if you truly believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, you cannot remain indifferent to the evils of persecution, poverty, slavery, tyranny and discrimination that drove people out of the old world and are threatening to destroy this new one. America, resist.
Vicente Fox is the former president of Mexico. He was previously a rancher, boot maker, truck driver, Coca-Cola executive, democracy activist, congressman and a governor of the state of Guanajuato. His new book, "Let's Move On," is a call for resistance and a plea for unity.