It was with great sadness, but not surprise, that I processed the recent events in Brazil. Populism is the cause, and the rule of law is its antidote.
Lula and the PT are, of course, hypocritical leftists who have stolen with abandon with the left hand, while holding up the Marxist bible with the right. But just as it was, and is, a patent lie that the 2020 American election was 'stolen', there is absolutely nothing I've seen yet that indicates foul play in the recent Brazilian election.
Populism is a cancer. The enlightened leader tells the people what they want to hear, and then wallow in the soiled adulation that follows. It's the bread and circus of Roman times; it's nothing new nor original, regardless of how many MAGA hats or America First t-shirts you manage to sell. Just like the Trumpist mob, the Bolsonaristas wanted to believe that the only way they could lose the election was through meddling with the electronic voting machines. They wanted to believe it, and their leader told them that it was so. The mob that overwhelmed police in Brasilia was simply the logical conclusion of this.
In a dictatorship the law is whatever the dictator says it is. In a failed state multiple warlords or a corrupt political/economic class determine what is legal. One of the defining characteristics of a republic, however, is adherence to the rule of law and enforcement after its breakdown. Individuals, political parties, and interest groups are of course free to lobby for changes in the law, but they must always respect it. The breakdowns in the rule of law that we saw in the US in 2021, and Brazil in 2023 must be corrected.
How? First, the security services must document and then refer each violator to the justice system. Everything I've read indicates the FBI has done an excellent job at this. Second, the prosecutorial service must seek maximum penalties for those who assault the republican system of government. Third, juries and the courts must hand down maximum penalties. These are the immediate remedies.
Long-term fixes require long-established institutions, including the media, to regain public trust. It is just as unacceptable for The New York Times to be the official state organ of the woke left, as it is for Fox News to be the mouthpiece for the racial-populist right. Those in leadership positions inside traditional political parties must do everything they can to resist the lobby and political horse-trading that gives their wingers any more power. I still find it unbelievable that the Republican Party allowed itself to be hijacked by a pretender who never had more than 40% support.