If he hasn't already, Mexico's president, Felipe Calderon, needs to read the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling — especially the line about "keeping your head while those about you are losing theirs and blaming you."

The man honestly wants the Mexican government to be more accountable. But getting to that point is causing his people untold tons of pain.

A crackdown on the border to bust drug runners has led to Wild West style shootouts in the streets, with rival drug lords severing each other's heads and rolling them in the gutters. Now, Calderon's push to open the courts and make the justice system more transparent is not only forcing the cockroaches to scurry for cover but is creating confusion and fear in the courts.

"Reform" has always been a watchword in Mexico. Father Hidalgo sparked the first Mexican revolution with chants about reforming politics. Benito Juarez fomented revolution No. 2 on promises of land reform and — in 1910 — Pancho Villa and his merry men rode notions of "reform" to folk hero glory.

The problem is, Mexico has a history of making stunning, epic declarations about "reform" but is doing little to embrace it. The main street in Mexico City may be called "Reform Avenue," but the same problems have plagued the nation for centuries.

Now, Felipe Calderon is finally moving things forward from the inside — as a policeman — instead of pushing for change from the outside as a romantic revolutionary. After decades of government sloganeering about drug reform, Calderon's government is taking action. And the new initiatives for justice appear to be very real.

But developing a true democracy can be a thankless, mind-numbing task.

That's why it's important for Americans to view Mexico as more than a source of illegal immigrants and see the nation as a budding member of the First World. It is important to separate the actions of Calderon from the bad actions of Mexican citizens.

It is crisis time in Mexico. The economy is a mess there, violence rages and the hen house is filled with foxes. Calderon needs the financial and moral support of the United States more than ever. For the United States, he is just what the doctor ordered: an American-educated free-market capitalist with high principles and a "can-do" attitude. If Calderon goes, chances are the United States itself will become mired even deeper in problems not of its own making.

Shoring up the southern border means doing whatever is politically and economically possible to shore up Felipe Calderon.