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Brazil

November 9, 2022

I criticized Bolsonaro’s environmental policies, which were bad for the entire world. And I am glad to see him defeated. So it is worth noting how he is responding to that loss. He has not stoked his base with a bunch of conspiracy theories about the election being stolen. He is proceeding with a transition to his successor. He says this:

I’ve always been labeled as anti-democratic but unlike my accusers, I’ve always played by the rules. As president and a citizen, I’ll continue to follow our constitution.

And, now, he is telling truckers who are blocking highways in protest to stop.

What a contrast to the US, which saw its right-wing president attempt a coup to retain power, after losing re-election! Had some fortune-teller two decades past told me that, in 2022, Brazil would serve as better example of working democracy than the US, I would have laughed. But here we are.

“Better” doesn’t mean “good.” Any nation that relies on the restraint of a populist leader to retain its rule of law is in a precarious position. Bolsonaro deserves credit for that restraint. His supporters deserve condemnation that they would take their nation into a political crisis, were he eager for that. In the late 1990s, with the Cold War over and China quickly adopting capitalist practices, western liberals imagined the end of history and the inexorable growth of democracy. The future had something more interesting in store.

Update: Alas, this post did not age well.

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