Curtain Raiser

A Foretold Political Exit, Colltalers

Brazil’s suspended President Dilma Rousseff appears at the Senate today, to make a final appeal to keep the job that 54 million Brazilians in 2014 entrusted her to do. But it’ll likely be her last act as elected president, as her impeachment seems to be already all but on the books.
It’ll be a sad epilogue to a rather prosaic political saga, a tug of war she’s lost the moment the opposition grabbed reins of a rising anti-corruption sentiment and use it to batter her lack of original ideas, and the administrative sins of her Workers’ Party, the then ruling PT.
No one is expecting her to frame her debacle as a tragedy and an incalculable loss to democracy in Brazil, as she could, because among other things, Rousseff was never known for oratorical skills or arresting rhetoric. On the contrary, she may commit the same mistakes that marked most of her public appearances: a bureaucratic zeal for the procedural and an absolute absence of passion and ability to inspire. While her predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, could rouse crowds to their feet with colorful speech patterns and folksy tone, using his lack of formal education as an effective way to convey his message, Rousseff’s speeches were a prime on political jargon.
Evidently, she hasn’t lost her presidential seat solely on the poor quality of her words, or even policies. But she did unwittingly contribute to her own demise when she chose a conservative course of action, to reignite the economy, for instance, when the momentum was crucial and ripe for a radical reassessment of Brazil’s GDP priorities, circa 2012, 2013, in the face of adverse conditions in world markets.
She underestimated the level of dissatisfaction with PT, by then deeply embroiled in corruption probes and scandals of

abuse of power, and the ability of the parties it had defeated in the polls for over a decade to articulate the strategy that would ultimately cost her job.
Above all, segments of the Brazilian upper classes were beginning to feel left out, amid so much emphasis by the party on social programs, and its own constituency, the lower strata of society. It was a strategy that never ceased to unsettle the traditionally privileged.
A great number of Brazilians cite the massive anti-corruption rallies, and folkloric banging of cooking pots, that took over city streets for almost two years, as the reason why Rousseff was declared impeachable and now waits to all but the confirmation of such verdict.
To many, it may be very hard to admit that that was far from being what really caused her fall. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be today so many politicians and officials, who are themselves fighting serious allegations of corruption and abuse of power, in charge of her impeachment.
Suddenly, the clamor against corruption ended on cue with the Congress’ first steps to impeach Rousseff. It reminded some of the self-congratulatory, and criminally deceiving, ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner that greeted U.S. President Bush in the early years of the Iraq war. The regime’s supposed weapons of mass destruction were never found, thus the premise was false, but the war raged on way after it.
Unlike her accusers, it has been established that Rousseff did not engage in theft or any other serious crimes, and she stands to be ousted based on a misguided, but not illegal, maneuver she took with the federal budget, in order to prevent Brazil’s economy from taking a dive.
That it did anyway shows more of her inability to lead at the moment the country needed it the most, and less, much less, in fact, her intention to deceive Brazilians. That is also something that still makes those who supported her impeachment restless, as they feel they too were engaged, or rather, manipulated by false premises, not by the president, but by those with an invested interest in deposing her.
Before going any further into this painful semi-forensics of what will, and it definitely should, be a long, excoriating process to understand what happened to Brazil, it’s important to share a personal take about what’s going on with millions of extremely sad citizens.
Yes, we’re very disappointed with ourselves, with our once again failure to reach greatness – and it seemed so very close this time around – and we have no idea, yet, of how come in just a few years, we became the world’s sixth-largest economy, were poised to be a powerful global voice, and suddenly, have collapsed back into what we’ve been for decades prior: a gigantic land led by a corrupted political cast.
So, no, we’re not blaming ‘the Brazilians,’ but us, Brazilians. And we do have a big job to do, and will do it, you can rest assured. Just not today. We must first endure the embarrassment of watching the assigned ‘snake in the grass’ of the hour, Michel Temer, dismantle in just a couple of months, what took years for the people – not PT, not Lula, and most definite, not Rousseff – to build: a more equanimous nation.
That was then, let’s face it. In her final act, the president is unlike to seize the moment and deliver an earth shaking conclamation, of her unwavering faith in the future, and the power of the people to operate real change and all that. And, yes, we’ll all be sorry for that too.
To many, this has taken such an emotional toll, and too long a wasted time, that it’d rather be done already, so they could get some sleep. They obviously may be up to an unpleasant wake up call, of course. For as hard and sticky it may be an exercise of foreseeing the future, before it gets any better, it will get considerably worse. But the signs may be clear only to those not forced to be under such a dark outlook.
Residents may think that those living abroad are the lucky ones, but that’s never the case. Even pointing to the evidence is all the more painful to those, because they have no direct dog in this race, and just the same may be liable to stand accused of acting on self-interest and not for the betterment of the majority. It’s all true, of course. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have a voice.
And it doesn’t help anyone to ignore that the end result of the legitimate rebellion against the status quo in Brazil, one that pitched friend against friend, and relative against relative, hasn’t produced a decent score. On the contrary, there’s now in power in Brazil, arguably, one of the worst generations of politicos, almost none voted to their current position, all rich and considerably more corrupt that the one before.
By definition, they will have no interest in maintaining anti-corruption probes, or social programs to promote the poor and protect the competitive edge of minorities, or support human rights, women’s causes, or any progressive issues of gender, race or class.
Since they engendered their own ascension to power, they may feel disobliged to the masses that supported the deposition of their political enemies, and their very own ideas on how to run a country, and will pretty much respond only to themselves. Unless, Lula.
And that is the last uncomfortable notion we’ll invoke, in a post particularly full of them. And that is that unless Lula runs again to the presidency, perhaps even not be elected but to give a decent show of force, this claque may have an interrupted six to 10 years in power to run the country. No other current political power in the country still has a reserve of support as the PT still has, and that hurts, I know.
If Lula is successfully shut out of the next electoral cycle, and no other leader with enough power to shake the polls in 2018 ‘reports for duty,’ then we’re very sorry to say that there are a number of wealthy politicians, including from the religious right, eager to grab the prize.
We’re overdoing it; for measure, think progressive Americans clipping their noses and voting Democrat in November. For the alternative may be handing the White House to the dangerously unqualified, and fortunately still under-represented, ultra right. ‘Politics is dirty’ is a cliche, but also unavoidable; even rejecting it, we’re still up to our necks in it. Goodbye, August; here comes Brazil’s 194th September. WC

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