Today, we review the second CARS passage from the Blueprint Diagnostic exam.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
[03:46] Passage 2 (Questions 6 – 10)
Mexicans have long attributed the origins of their political system to the Revolution of 1910-20. They cite the constitution of 1917 as the foundation of their modern political institutions and practices. Mexico’s governing institutions and political culture also bear the imprint of three centuries of Spanish colonial rule. Mexicans’ adherence to a highly codified civil law tradition, their acceptance of heavy state involvement in business and civic affairs, and the deference accorded the executive over other branches of government can be traced to the administrative and legal practices of the colonial period.
Then the author mentions that all these different things that they do are a result of three centuries of Spanish colonial rule. (Other important things to highlight are in bold above.)
[06:29] Paragraph 2
During the 1920s, President Elías Calles reorganized Mexican politics along corporatist lines to contain latent social conflicts. Calles expanded government bureaucracy to enable it to mediate among rival constituencies and to dispense state funds to organizations supportive of the “official” party. Calles also created umbrella organizations that lumped together disparate groups according to broad functional categories. Newly created interest groups depended heavily on the state for their financing and were required to maintain strong ties to the ruling party, the newly created Institutional Revolutionary Party (IRP).
Everything that comes after this in the paragraph is talking about the idea of expanding government bureaucracy. Another thing to note here is the Institutional Revolutionary Party (IRP) and if they’re bothering to put an abbreviation for it, it’s probably going to be mentioned again.
[09:40] Paragraph 3
Calles’s successor, Lázaro Cárdenas, revived populism as a force within the IRP by redistributing land to landless peasants via state-sponsored communal farming known as the ejido system. Cárdenas emphasized nationalism as a political force by expropriating the holdings of foreign oil corporations. By 1942, the political processes and institutions that would define Mexican politics for the next forty years were established: a strong federal government dominated by a civilian president and his loyalists within the ruling party, a symbiotic relationship between the state and the official party, a regular rotation of power among rival factions within a de facto single-party system, and a highly structured corporatist relationship between the state and government-sponsored businesses.
It’s important to highlight “revived populism” because it encompasses what they’re talking about in this paragraph.
[12:27] Paragraph 4
During the 1980s, the pattern of Mexican politics instituted by Calles and Cárdenas began to break down. Public funding for a variety of programs dried up, which led to the state’s role in the economy being scaled back, and the relationships developed over four decades between government agencies and legally recognized constituent groups were weakened. An internal rift emerged between the populists and the more technocratic wing of the ruling party over the market reforms and the authoritarian nature of the IRP-dominated political system. This internal rift developed into the first major mass defection from the IRP when a key minority group broke ranks and contested the 1988 presidential election as a coalition of populist parties.
Important things to highlight are in bold above.
[14:33] Paragraph 5
Self-preservation can help explain this breach in partisanship. IRP members’ longstanding loyalty to the party means that in the absence of disrupting forces, they can be expected to vote for that party. However, when drastic changes occur in the political and financial landscape, members are responsive to a range of pressures that can weaken their loyalty. Obvious variations occur in such factors as the charisma of the candidates, the impact of economic and domestic policy issues, foreign policy, and especially local economic changes. These factors may well have caused members to dissociate from the IRP.
We see this strong transition here with the phrase “when changes occur.” And so, this talks about how we have these forces, and they lead to a change because our members are responsive to things like local needs.
[15:52] Paragraph 6
Since 1987, the IRP has managed to defeat most of the serious electoral challenges to its central role in Mexican politics. However, by 2002, most believed, correctly, that the IRP-dominated political system was in an advanced state of decay and that a move to greater pluralism in organized political activity was at hand. How this transition period would unfold, and whether it would result in a more participatory and competitive political process for Mexico, was yet to be determined. Traumatic experiences during the nineteenth century, including foreign military occupations, the loss of half of the national territory to the United States, as well as the disillusion sown by a series of unconstitutional regimes, continue to have a profound impact on contemporary political culture.
It’s talking about this transition period and this idea of how it was yet to be determined. We don’t know how this was going to unfold. The author also talks about examples of traumatic experiences that have an impact on contemporary political culture.
[20:28] Question 6
According to the passage, one problem that likely precipitated the 1980s crisis was:
A.investors’ reactions to disappointing financial information.
B.a shortage of available government funding.
C.a collapse of the state’s role in economics.
D.the first major defection from the IRP.
A – irrelevant information because it wasn’t mentioned in the passage
B – this talks about the public funds drying up which is mentioned in the passage
C – this is a tempting answer. But if you picked this, then Nicole says you might have missed a very important wording here which is “precipitated.”
D – this was mentioned but it didn’t precipitate the crisis so it doesn’t answer the question.
Correct Answer: B
[24:19] Question 7
Which of the following is NOT characterized as a contributing factor to present-day Mexican politics?
A.Adherence to a legal precedent
B.Uneven power among branches of government
C.Foreign military occupation
D.Land grants from the United States
The answer that we’re looking for here is something that’s irrelevant. Since this is a NOT question, look at all the contributing factors first and then eliminate them to get to the right answer.
D is the answer here because it mentioned in the passage that there was land-taking by the U.S. which is opposite to the land-giving. While answer choices A, B, and C have been mentioned in the passage, which contributed to the present-day Mexican politics.
Correct Answer: D
[30:07] Question 8
Which of the following incidents may have led to the rift between groups within the IRP?
A.A local scandal involving officials of the IRP
B.Political pressure from national labor unions
C.Opinions of the defectors’ family members
D.A particularly persuasive campaign speech by a technocrat member
In that same sentence about the charisma of the candidate and it says “obvious variations occur in such factors as the impact of economic and domestic policy issues.” If you look at the paragraph before this one, it talks about populism. These groups are differing from the stern governments of the IRP. And so, recent reforms were more restrictive and these limited the interests of the technocratic wing. Populist is the opposite of technocratic. And so, populism goes in line with this political pressure from national labor unions.
Correct Answer: B'Students try too hard with the CARS section. Just relax and let it come to you.'Click To Tweet
[37:42] Question 9
In 2006, despite a substantial technocrat majority among the Mexican senate, leftist parties modestly increased their share of senate seats at the expense of the IRP. Given the information in the passage, this result was probably due to:
A.concerns about the competitiveness of the regional economy in several large Mexican states.
B.a large-scale shift in party loyalty among IRP members.
C.low voter interest in the campaign.
D.a lack of pressing domestic issues facing Mexico.
A – this sounds good as it makes sense
B – this is an extreme answer talking about “large-scale”
C – this was not in the discussion
D – If there aren’t any issues, things will stay the same so this doesn’t make sense.
Nicole recommends that if you’re debating between two answers, you have to read every single word so you don’t miss out anything.
Correct Answer: A
[43:15] Question 10
Which of the following words would the author most likely use to describe the establishment of the IRP as the “official” party?
Nicole says that we’re talking about the tone for this. A lot of students can get confused between A and C. But Nicole recommends grading the tone of the author based on -1, -2, and -3. And reading the passage, the tone felt like a -1, which pretty much matches answer choice C.
And going back to the passage, if you think about why the author put the word “official” in quotes, then it somewhat sends a misleading tone, which is manipulative. Hence, the correct answer is C.
Correct Answer: C