Curtain Raiser

U.S. & Brazil At a Similar Hub, Colltalers

There are many studies pointing to the benefits of being multicultural, that is, a person with more than one country to call their own. But those with that particular point of reference are fully aware of its trappings. One of them is the temptation to engage in generalized comparisons.
So we’re going against the grain here, to find some arguably common denominators between the U.S. and Brazil. For both are indeed facing similar challenges – ignoring for a second their truck full of differences – which may shed some light into the complexities of their politics.
Starting by their presidents, the extreme polarization that brought them both to power, and the coincident timing of their current major crisis. Not many will agree that Donald Trump and Michel Temer are facing the first serious threat to their very position as commanders-in-chief.
But few dispute that they’re fighting for their political future, and that legitimacy, impropriety, and corruption, are issues often strong enough to depose a sitting president. Even those overwhelmingly popular, which they aren’t. They’re both skillful politicians, though, so we’re on.
The catalog of certified lies, incompetent mistakes, intrigue, firings, and increased fear that, if a major global crisis arises, the administration is incapable to protect Americans, which has characterized the Trump presidency in just over four months, has no parallel in U.S. politics.
From nominating a clearly unprepared cabinet, to a number of deeply disturbing executive orders, most of them so far reversed, to failing to unify his Republican Party, which seems poised to back his every diatribe, until his boat is no longer sea-worthy, Trump made a mess of pretty much everything he’s touched (no pun intended). Except for his one sole score: the Neil Gorsuch nomination to the Supreme Court.
But the appointment of former FBI chief Robert Mueller as Special Prosecutor, to investigate his possible ties with Russia, may be the very first warning sign that his support base is treading water. No wonder he’s mad about leaks. To impeachment, though, it’s a long way.
Temer, the vice president who became chief by leading a conspiracy to oust the head of his ticket, Dilma Rousseff, like Trump,

has had both houses of congress behind him. And still managed to bungle their own agenda. He was finally caught on tape incriminating himself.
Unlike Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell’s legislative platoon, Brazilian politicians are already distancing themselves em mass from Temer, as he may be called to testify to the now notorious Car Wash (Lava Jato) probe. He still counts with the country’s powerful media, though.
It’s also instructive to note, among those ‘common denominators,’ the fact that both Trump and Temer have been under a cloud of suspicion and corruption way before they ascended to power. While Trump has been accused of shady real estate deals and shoddy business practices, Temer’s personal wealth has raised many questions along the years, even thought there hasn’t been to date any serious probe into them.
Entering unfamiliar territory, they’re both crying foul. Despite contrasting personalities, – Trump’s flashy style to spotlight-dodging Temer – neither can now avoid public scrutiny. There are not many places to hide in Washington’s White House or Brasília’s Palácio da Alvorada.
One word, though, to enthusiasts on both sides of the Equator: latest developments do grant a level of measured optimism that, at least on paper, both the revealing recordings of Temer, and the special probe into Trump, will lead to needed political changes in Brazil and the U.S.
Then again, they may not. In Brazil, for instance, constitutional voices are calling for restrain, so not to re-stage the embarrassing process that lead to the ousting of democratically elected Rousseff. It was a shameful process, rife with rumor and gossip, and short of proof and evidence.
As for Trump, the Mueller investigation may drag on for months, if not years, and produce a limited amount of actionable facts to grant a step further into impeachment and even more serious crimes. Besides, much of the seriousness of the allegations remains lost to his supporters.
Both Temer and Trump have plenty of resources, political backing, and resilience to withstand the pressure of revelations and weather the constitutional storm. For sure, they may’ve compromised the dignity of the presidency, but if the electorate, the voters and the citizenry at large, won’t place much currency on that moral aspect, then all may be wasted. That’s why it’s so important to citizens to remain engaged.
Finally, there are a few contradictions in this brief about two very complex and still young nations, whose direction keeps the world on its toes. To compare U.S. and Brazil is in fact a moot point. For the former will likely remain the most powerful nation, for time to come, no matter what, while the latter seems to be again choking, which happens every time it’s on the verge of ascending to the elite of global powers.
Still, the pull of finding parallels between lands that gave us birth and shelter is easy and, often, irresistible. It may offer a fresh insight into issues that can be insufferably boring despite being relevant. We’ll take a week break to recharge for the 50 years of the Summer of Love. WC

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