For the many conservatives, libertarians, moderates, classical liberals, and free market-enthusiasts (that is to say, generally non-Democrats) who were less than thrilled with Trump, one might rephrase the headline: “Don’t Like Trump Running the United States for Four Years? Blame the Democrats for Running the Corrupt and Duplicitous Hillary Clinton and the Socialist Freeloader Bernie Sanders.”
In Brazil, there are plenty of legitimate reasons for lovers of free minds, free markets, and free peoples, to be concerned about a Jair Bolsonaro presidency. Concern regarding Bolsonaro is hardly confined to the left. However, regardless of the personal ideological inclinations of those who are aghast at what is now a certainty (Bolsonaro will win)…they should ask themselves: who is to blame?
Blame for the conditions that created Bolsonaro’s rise, lies squarely on the shoulders of the PT.
The Economist recently penned a not-quite-endorsement of Fernando Haddad. As one of the flagship publications of the global technocrat elitist center-left, it should hardly be surprising. But their perspective on the state of affairs is rather more nuanced than saying: “Brazilians should run out and enthusiastically vote for Haddad.”
Rather, their argument boils down to their assertion that terrible economic policy is preferable to ignoring the rule of law:
“Rejection of its [PT’s] leftist ideology, which is legitimate, is sometimes tinged with snobbery…Such voters are receptive to Mr Bolsonaro’s message that the PT is uniquely dangerous. It did not merely govern badly and corruptly, Mr Bolsonaro says. Given a second chance in power, it would turn Brazil into another Venezuela, an impoverished dictatorship. That is a misreading of the party and its candidate.”
First, it’s rather amusing for the good people at The Economist to take umbrage at snobbery. Sure, there may be some snobbery in viewing the “Workers Party” as a ragtag band of freeloaders who want to loot state coffers to fund social programs in favelas and poor rural areas, thereby buying their way to reelection, while raising taxes on wealthier Brazilians.
Nonetheless, this may be a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Have they had problems with such “snobbery” directed at Jair Bolsonaro or Donald Trump on the part of academic, cultural, and media elites?
They at least appear to concede that twelve years of Workers Party rule was egregiously bad and corrupt, and their point regarding Venezuela is debatable.
Despite how much libertarians vehemently disagree with the political philosophy and economic management of the Workers Party, Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff are demonstrably NOT on the same level as Hugo Chavez, Nicolas Maduro, Raul and Fidel Castro, and Daniel Ortega.
Placed next to Cristina Kirchner, they look somewhat pragmatic and centrist by comparison. This may not be much of a tribute to the wisdom and economic sensibility of Lula/Dilma, but rather a reflection of just how ludicrously out of the mainstream many of the administrations of Latin America have been over the course of the past 20 years.
As The Economist proceeds to argue, the PT and its candidate Haddad respect democracy (insinuating that Bolsonaro will not), and quoting political scientist Claudio Couto, they suggest that “a disastrous economic policy is not the same thing as extremism.”
Even if the PT has a terrible track record over the course of two decades…at least they are not spouting politically incorrect and offensive things.
Then they really step in it: fundamentally, they are prepared to believe that Haddad is not like his PT brethren. Sure…Lula and Dilma put together a terrible economic plan that ultimately ruined Brazil’s economy. Dilma was a bad administrator…but Haddad is a sensible moderate.
Why are they so prone to believe Haddad? Furthermore, why are they are impressed by his cosmetic reforms: He has taken the step of replacing red (the traditional color of Communist parties worldwide) with green and yellow…the colors of the Brazilian flag. He now is a champion of prudent fiscal administration and will not be ramping up public spending (another hallmark of PT stewardship). He denies he will pardon Lula, and dispenses with talk of sponsoring a Venezuela-style “Constituent Assembly” to rewrite the country’s Constitution.
The Economist may be taken in by Haddad masquerading as a moderate, but Brazilian voters surely are not.
They realize that, fundamentally, Bolsonaro’s excesses, are a reaction to nearly two decades of egregiously bad economic policy coupled with a disastrous tolerance for crime and corruption, on the part of PT. If you don’t like Bolsonaro…at least send the blame for the conditions that enabled his candidacy to where it is due: the horrendous leadership of the Workers Party.