Im frightened for my countrybut also determined to hope for the best, rather than to surrender to despair.

On Sunday, my fellow Mexicans elected Andres Manuel LopezObradoras our next president.He may have won asweeping political victory,butI am concernedhe doesntunderstand how an economy worksandhe knowseven less about how farmers like me produce the food that everybody needs.

The most pessimisticobserversare already wondering if Mexico will become the next Venezuelaa promisingLatin Americancountry that took a sudden turn for the worse when it embraced the left-wing populism of a charismatic leader. I doubt that well sinksolow, butat timesthe rhetoric ofObradormimicked the speechesof the late Hugo Chavez, the man most responsible for Venezuelasstunningdeterioration.

Obrador, for example,talks about the importance of self-sufficiency, suggesting thatour countrycan produceeverything it consumes.

This idea holds a certain kind of appeal, at least on the surface. Consider my own caseas a good example.Im a dairy farmer. If our government were to stop importing milk, in the name of self-sufficiency, it would reduce the competition that I facefromforeign producers and, presumably, allow me to flourish.

Yetin reality, wed all suffer.Mexican dairy farmersdontproduce enough milk to meet the demands of consumers. Even if we did, we still wouldnt be truly self-sufficient. Milk production doesnt take just a dairy farmer with a bunch of cowsit also requires farmers who grow the food that dairy cows eatas well as technology and machinery that make us better producers. Mexicoimportsthese goods as well.

In fact, my farm wouldnt exist in its present state but forourability to exchange goods and services across borders. Weimportcorn,soy, canola, vitamins, medicine, and machinery, for example.This ishowsustainableeconomies work, keepingpricesin check for everyone.And itsmuchbetterthan the protectionism, price controls, and subsidies that central planners wrongly believe will fix the problems of their ownmarket distortions.

Obradorowes his election tomanyfactors that have little to do with economics, such as rising crime. Yet his fundamental appeal came from his promise to help the poorest Mexicans, who have seen the value of their wages drop even as unemployment has fallen in recent years.

Some of his supporters have observed that althoughObradortalks like an extremist, he governs more like a pragmatistand they point to his record as mayor of Mexico City. If thats true, perhapsObradorwillembracefree trade, which holds so much opportunity for Mexicans of all economic classes.

Obradorsays he wants to spend more money on everything from pensions to public works, but without raising taxes. Thatsprobably impossible. One surefire way to improve the national economy, however,is tohelpMexicans buy and sell goods and services with people in other countries.

Consider the case of the last American president, Barack Obama. He campaigned as a protectionistand then, as president, oversaw the successful completion of trade agreements between the United States and several other countries, most notably South Korea. In his case,the high responsibility of presidential leadership forced him to turn away from thehottalk of the campaign trail and take seriously the fact that free trade helps everyone.

One potentialpositiveeffect ofObradorsvictory is that itmay jumpstart the NAFTA renegotiations. Theyvedraggedon for long enough, and theyslowed downas the Mexican election approached. Theymay notcome to a swift conclusionthe United States has its own legislative elections in four monthsbut perhaps trade diplomats will have a clearer sense ofwhat they can achieve. President Trump andObrador, for example, bothsupportraising labor standardsand improving wages in Mexican workplaces.

I was not hoping forObradorstriumphand frankly, Im not optimistic about what it will mean for Mexico. Yet the people have spoken and now hell have his chance, includingthe chance to surprise us.