(NewsNation) — An appeal to your hearts and minds: Why can’t we do democracy at least as well as Brazil? The situation is more similar than you may think.
President Jair Bolsonaro and his right-wing party have been bashing the democratic institutions there. His opponent? A left-wing former president known as Lula, and there is nothing but bad blood between the wings, just as there is in the United States.
The race was close, and Sunday, the country’s election authority declared Lula the winner with 50.9% of the vote. Lula is someone Bolsonaro and the rest of his party railed against as proof of the corrupt insider system they would change, citing crime and corrupt politics.
Lula went to prison for bribery but had his convictions vacated, paving the way for a political comeback. Bolsonaro has corruption investigations surrounding him, as well — which he waves off as insiders trying to stop his reforms. Sound familiar?
Right-wing populism is not new. What happened in the U.S. crashed through Europe before and after. We just usually do not get caught in the polarizing politics abroad. But those days are over.
What may be different about Brazil and here is that they had a tough race that centered around crime and the working class, but in Brazil, the working class moved back to the left with a president who had made social reforms as a main part of his presidency. So, the populist move was based on income for workers, not anger in the ranks toward a perceived outsider, which is what populism has been about in the U.S.
And of course, Brazil is huge. There are 215 million citizens. We have 334 million. So, it is big, diverse and struggling with crime. There are criminal gangs, drug trafficking and poverty.
There’s another similarity. Bolsonaro, his sons and supporters for months seeded baseless allegations of electoral fraud. Bolsonaro summoned foreign diplomats in July to cast doubt on electronic voting.
Election authorities, though part of his administration, dismissed all those claims as fictitious, and called Sunday’s election secure and valid. Polls reveal that millions of Bolsonaro’s supporters have lost faith in the integrity of Brazil’s elections, and many have said before the election they were ready to take to the streets.
But the point is that they haven’t. Bolsonaro has been quiet since the election, opting not to promote lies about a rigged election since the result was announced, unlike in the U.S. His party is not out there ducking every suggestion. Can we be like that Nov. 8?
Even if it goes bad in Brazil, and it may, that, too, we should watch. There would be a tendency if it gets ugly to wave it off as what a lesser democracy would do. However, we are not exactly holders of high ground.
Look at the attack on the U.S. Capitol and the silence that followed on the right. It continued into an attack on the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. There were some perfunctory niceties and then was made into something worse than alleged so it couldn’t be a problem about rhetoric on the right.
The king of Twitter, Elon Musk, went at Hillary Clinton, suggesting more was afoot. He then deleted it. Is that the new Twitter filter, that you delete what you get crushed for?
Then came the word from the authorities. The San Francisco district attorney held a news conference negating much of the noise that the right fringe is echoing through social media about the attack being something other than what’s been told. Conjecture and conspiracies have spread about the DA, but it’s all nonsense.
I thought we were supposed to respect the police? The same people who are trying to reject what the police are saying about the case are the ones who say we should support the police every time there’s a question about use of force. Apparently, we shouldn’t support police now, because it’s not convenient.
If we can’t all come together around an obvious wrong, then let’s shift focus to those who still know what is right: the majority. It is time for you to insist on a return to reasonable arguments and to decency in debate. We need our politics to reflect what we expect everywhere else in our lives.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not of NewsNation.