Taking the insurrection on the road
It was white knuckle time at first. But, as I write this, it’s looking as though Brazil’s outgoing president Jair Bolsonaro, who lost reelection by a cat’s whisker Sunday to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, AKA Lula, is going to stand down.
Bolsonaro is a loathsome Trumpist and election denier, so at first it looked like he was going to mobilise the national army and, at the behest of his bafflingly fanatical fanbase, stage a coup d’etat. Those tense moments have passed. While he has not overtly conceded, he has promised to follow the national constitution and accede to a peaceful transition of power.
That’s vitally important to the world’s interests for two reasons. First, and most importantly, it means the Amazon rainforest will be saved. Bolsonaro was the notorious murderer of the rainforest, allowing hundreds of thousands of acres to be burned or destroyed by encroachment and industry. Less than 80% of the forest that was present in 1970 remains. Stopping the wholesale deforestation of the “lungs of the earth” is vital to forestalling global warming.
Second, it means that the disease of election denialism begun by Donald Trump and his MAGA cretins has not destroyed free and fair elections in Brazil. Not yet anyway. But it almost did, and its toxic presence in Brazil is deeply worrying.
Needless to say Bolsonaro is hugely popular in the United States among MAGA clowns for one reason only: Donald Trump is enamoured of him. That’s all it takes for Fox News, MAGA Americans and the Republican leadership these days. If Trump loves them then they’re okay, no matter how big a monster they may be. That goes particularly for the likes of Vladimir Putin. How Republicans are able to justify it to themselves in the quiet moments before they go to sleep at night is puzzling. But somehow they do.
So as a result, Republicans are encouraging election denialism in Brazil and, by extension, anywhere in the world fascism has a toehold. Steve Bannon called on the Brazilian president not to concede and to insist that the election was rigged. Bannon’s cynical position is that all elections are rigged everywhere in the world where any candidate he favours loses. That fact alone ought to prove that Bannon doesn’t really believe the 2020 presidential election was rigged against Donald Trump. It proves that, for him, it’s all just a sinister political strategy.
But election denialism is now the world’s problem. The world is now a safer place for dictators, tyrants and fascists, because Donald Trump has made calling into question the legitimacy of elections popular. MAGA Republicans have, so to speak, taken the insurrection on the road.
This is why Republicans must go. The poisonous Republican position is no longer just an opinion, it’s an open rebellion against democracy. It’s treason, and should be dealt with by the law like any other crime. Republicanism is now a hate crime. Calling Nazis “the Republican Party” doesn’t change the inescapable fact that they are Nazis. Germany has made the Nazi party illegal. It’s time for America to do so as well. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.