Friday, October 05, 2018

Brazilian Presidential Election Context

Mac Margolis looks at Sunday's presidential election, noting that the "winner" is none of the above. Voters seem to be mostly rejecting everything. I have never seen a political context so eerily similar to the United States. Voters are tired of the established parties. One candidate is a crazed right wing populist while the other is overloaded with political baggage. I was listening to The Brazil Report podcast, where they also mentioned that people hear Jair Bolsonaro's rhetoric and think he's just exaggerating. He wouldn't really do that! The country is polarized so that politics is zero sum. People are eagerly and uncritically consuming and disseminating fake news through social media.

One paragraph caught my attention in particular. A rather dangerous one.

Some analysts argue that the current fury can’t last. “Everyone is on the anti-establishment train,” said Monica de Bolle, head of Latin American and Emerging Market studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. “People are going to get tired of it. This isn’t who Brazilians are.”
Basing an opinion on national identity is dicey. Perhaps more importantly, political crises do not tend to end because people "get tired of it." The examples where you hear of two sides being "exhausted" from conflict are those that involve thousands and thousands of violent deaths--La Violencia in Colombia, say, or the Salvadoran civil war.

Go back to 1935 and the publication of Upton Sinclair's It Can't Happen Here (which I reviewed here). Not long ago, we said certain things couldn't happen here and yet they are. They can also happen in Brazil. We should not assume things won't happen or that people will get tired of things when they happen.


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