For libertarians, conservatives, classical liberals, and believers in free markets, free minds, and free people, it is a very good question. Is far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro the lesser of two evils, given that it’s virtually a 100% certainty that he will face Workers Party candidate Fernando Haddad in the second round of Brazil’s presidential elections on October 28?
The Rio de Janeiro congressman has courted controversy throughout the course of his career. He is now the subject of the #elenao campaign (in Portuguese “not him”), by women arguing that his admittedly offensive previous statements on women disqualify him from serving in office. He is also rising in the polls, particularly with women.
Before we discuss Bolsonaro, let’s take a look at his competitor, former Sao Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad, who led Brazil’s largest city from 2013 to 2017. The Miami Herald’s Andres Oppenheimer, one of the most respected journalists in Latin America, who is generally regarded as pragmatic and centrist, writes that Haddad impressed him in an interview where the two discussed education policy. Yet Oppenheimer is troubled by Haddad’s vice presidential selection, Manuela D’Avila.
D’Avila is a fresh face: young and attractive, she is a congresswoman from the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, for the Communist Party of Brazil. One has to wonder exactly what Haddad was thinking with this choice.
His entire campaign strategy is based on masquerading as a moderate, yet he chooses a vice presidential candidate from a party that historically aligned itself with the Maoist dictatorship in Communist China, and the brutal and isolationist hardcore Marxist regime of Ever Hoxha in Albania.
Simply put, Mao was the greatest mass murderer in modern history, while Hoxha ran what was pound for pound, probably the most brutal, authoritarian, and evil dictatorship in modern history barring some sub-Saharan warlord states and the murderous Communist regime of North Korea.
As the Soviet Union and Eastern European Communist states fell in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Communist Party of Brazil continued to advocate for hardline Communism and decried the growing integration of decadent capitalist ideology into the Soviet experience as the primary reason for Communism’s collapse, rather than any fundamental problem with Communism itself.
Of late, the Communist Party of Brazil has had greater electoral success by aligning itself with the crypto-socialism of the Workers Party and its perpetual champion, the currently imprisoned Lula da Silva. In fact, some more left-wing political elements view them as sell-outs. Currently, they have little representation in Congress, with just 11 congressmen, and 1 senator, as well as one of Brazil’s 27 governorships.
Haddad appears to have shot himself in the foot here. Perhaps the Brazilian public will forgive him for the selection, but it seems risky. Why would Haddad pick a candidate from the lunatic fringe of the Brazilian left? Surely there were better candidates, and if he wants us to believe that he is a pragmatic moderate, reaching out to the Communist Party is hardly the way to do it.
Haddad is also currently under investigation for corruption. Jair Bolsonaro is not.
For most of the course of September, I watched Bolsonaro’s rise in the polls with alarm. I felt that it would set up a scenario that the Workers Party could exploit to remain in power. Many centrist Brazilians felt the same way. Now, it appears that many of those centrist Brazilians are viewing Bolsonaro as the lesser of two evils.
Travis Waldron, writing in the Huffington Post, has an interesting piece on how Bolsonaro, who does not come from a free market background, is now trying to convince Brazil’s business and financial elites that his populism is just an act: “Nearly a year ago, he began wooing financial elites in Brazil and abroad, attempting to convince them that he was only playing populist on the trail and would govern as a pragmatic liberal supportive of their market-friendly policies…Bolsonaro has turned his back on his previous support for more statist economic policies and embraced the market-friendly beliefs of his new adviser. He has said he would staff much of his government with military men, but when it comes to economic affairs, he has promised to hand near-total control to his ‘Chicago Boys’.”
And the business community appears to be susceptible to being convinced. They don’t have much of a choice, and they certainly do not want to see the Workers Party back in power.
It is almost unconscionable that the Brazilian public is even considering returning the Workers Party to power, but unfortunately, as Geraldo Alckmin and Marina Silva’s campaigns have sputtered, Bolsonaro appears to be the only credible choice to make sure that that vile and utterly wretched cesspool of shameless corruption and graft PT, does not take power in Brasilia for the next four years.
I do not like some of what Bolsonaro does, and much of what he says. I also did not like some of what Trump did, and much of what he said. But Trump was clearly a better choice for liberty lovers than Hillary Clinton.
As much as it pains me to say it, I would have to concede that in Brazil’s case, the same reasoning holds true.
Nothing would be more disastrous for Brazil’s fragile democracy and uncertain economic future, than to return the Workers Party and leading Lula lackey Fernando Haddad, to power.
And the markets agree.