For a New Brazil & U.S., Colltalers
To a considerable number of Brazilians and Americans, the past two years have been a cavalcade of back steps and heart breaking discouragement. But in a few weeks, they’ll all have a shot at disavowing and stopping this disastrous era, or gladly reaffirming it.
At stake, it’s whether the twin time bombs set by the Aug. 2016 coup that ousted Brazil’s one-and-a-half term president Dilma Rousseff, and the following Nov. election of popular-vote loser Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, can still be safely disarmed.
Millions, who feel as if living in a bizarro version of democracy, will go to the polls with a clear goal in mind: change. From South to North America, they’ll face off a loud pack of blind drones, assigned to shoot down any threat to the reining premeditated chaos.
Whatever the outcome, it’s bound to stir the sour continental soup of exceptions. While Brazil may push Latin America further into its conservative downward spin, the U.S.’ reenacting of Europe’s worst traits may wind up dragging down its hard-won stability.
Altogether, about a billion-plus may taste the bitterness of authoritarianism shoved down their throats, whether liking it or not.
Their fight to safeguard choice, civil rights, and the dignity of individual freedom, may be decided by what happens in the next couple of months. Casting a vote has seldom been so crucial
to keep democracy’s heart beating and racing forward at full clip.
The Trump administration’s assault on common decency was eerily previewed across the pond through the lies ushering the Brexit adventure. It was the same appalling manipulation and deceit that the U.S. president used to collude with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
As for Brazil, a similar coalition of upper classes and their enabling corrupted politicians, supported the media-legislative coup that ousted its first female president. Dissatisfied with consistent failings at the polls, and threatened by a rising new sense of citizenship and sovereignty, they manufactured a populist reaction to cover up their unforgivable rupture of the rule of the law.
A win by conservatives in both cases will prevent any changes in the status quo in years to come. The Brazilian election may lend the coup’s architects a patina of legitimacy, and the U.S. midterm elections may move the goalposts simply too far for a reversal.
Also common to these nations is the ascendancy of fake news as a key to unlock people’s worst fears, and the despicable use of social networks to incite intolerance. It’s always instructive to remember that there was little hacking of the 2016 electoral process compared with an exhaustive use of legit social media tools to simulate ideological conflicts and elect compromised candidates.
Brazil’s presidential campaign was marked by frantic right wing efforts to prevent former two-term president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to run. But despite a faulty prosecution process and jail sentence that followed it, Lula was still leading just a week ago. Pragmatism prevailed, however, and their Worker’s Party picked a relatively novice ex-São Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad to run.
Adding a dose of sinister drama, the now front runner Jair Bolsonaro was stabbed a week ago at a supporters’ rally. But not to worry: the former Army Captain, an avowed enemy of the LGBT community, progressives and the poor, is in no danger of dying.
That sets the peculiar situation of having two front runners absent from the campaign trail on its last days. As the people’s favorite languishes behind bars, a nameplate running on his place, the landowners and religious right’s champion barks from a hospital bed.
The other candidates lose relevance by the day. That is, apart from their likely usefulness diverting either a return to a state of legality in Brazil, or supporting the current intense two-year selloff of state assets and dismounting of its constitutional institutions.
As Oct. 7 approaches, Brazilians’ shattered dreams of greatness and descent to global oblivion may get an extension or reprieve. It’s up to them to pick the path of redemption: vote with the oppressed, the dispossessed and those who’re always at the bottom.
As for the U.S., the Trump administration sowed hatred and disarray through the media, as it consolidated control over Congress and the Supreme Court. But if the latter is lost, the former has an opening: the House is still up for grabs. Democrats may win Nov. 6 by embracing its new progressives, but will surely be crushed ignoring them and believing Americans are dumb and distracted.
Speaking of fighting to regain relevance, the United Nations General Assembly gathers tomorrow in New York, and issues such as climate change and epidemic threats will be dutifully discussed. But in the next couple of weeks it’ll do well only if it seizes the momentum to reclaim a role in defense of Democracy in its truly sense: of protecting the individual’s right and freedom to dissent.
An electoral system that produces votes that don’t count, curtails access to polls, or benefits those already in power over people’s will cannot be called democracy. It’s only renaming a vicious cycle of tyrannic oppression, under the guise of representation. The U.N. has a job only it can perform: to bring countries together. And to assure people’s self-determination is on its charter. Cheers WC