Brazil’s political and economic woes are undeniably linked. As markets rise and fall with the starts and stops of President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment, it appears the capitalists of the world prefer the demise of the Workers' Party. While proceedings against the nation’s top leader and massive unrest fueled by widespread socioeconomic injustice at a time of global economic instability weighs heavily on Brazil, the purge of Brazil’s socialist leadership will not solve Brazil’s troubles. It is only the purging of all corrupt leadership that will create a political environment conducive to constructive socioeconomic change.
Despite the annulment of Dilma’s impeachment due to procedural flaws, the drama has only begun. Impeachment is not a pleasant process, yet it is a necessary safeguard intended to protect democratic nations against corrupt, abusive, and/or inept leadership. Unfortunately, Brazil’s economy and society have long been corroded by massive corruption at the hands of self-serving political elites. A scandal involving Dilma Rousseff and a plot to divert money from state-owned oil company Petrobras to support her reelection bid by hiding a massive budget deficit are serious, yet not uncommon in Brazil.
Supporters of Rousseff, therefore, see their President as a victim of hypocritical politicians in a sea of corrupt plutocrats seeking to seize power. For supporters of Dilma and her predecessor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, there is no greater injustice than the prosecution of their beloved leaders at the hands of their corrupt rivals. In an attempt to deflect blame and accountability, Rousseff has shamelessly pointed to the wrongs of Speaker Cunha while claiming her Vice President Michel Temer, who faces his own troubles, has orchestrated a soft coup against her. Frankly, Dilma is to blame for her own impeachment.
Rousseff’s attempt to shield Lula from prosecution by appointing him to her Cabinet was seen as an admission of guilt, thereby sealing her fate. In essence, the Dilma camp has given Brazilians a false choice between the far more self-serving corruption of her rivals and her corruption that is justified as means of securing the government for the People. By removing Lower House Speaker Eduardo Cunha from his position and denying him the opportunity to eventually seize power, however, the Supreme Court has now played its role in counterbalancing the abuse of public officials by rival political factions and helped move Brazil forward.
Furthermore, Brazil needs to hold its political leaders on both the Left and Right accountable for their corrupt ways. Brazil cannot tolerate corruption from any of its political leaders and must purge its government of all corruption. An unresponsive, self-serving political class that either fails to either properly represent its People and/or address the interests of its People cannot provide anything more than a dysfunctional, nonviable government. Unfortunately, legal challenges based on technicalities will probably keep the fight to purge Brazil of corruption going for some time.
Given the massive civil unrest seen in response to the political dysfunction, Dilma’s return to power, or the empowerment of an alternative selected by the corrupted political class, guarantees continued civil unrest and instability. Even if Dilma is ultimately cleared of any legal wrongdoing, she cannot be an effective leader at a time when Brazil needs someone capable of uniting a deeply wounded electorate. Temer cannot be an effective leader. Any major policy changes he tries to make absent a new election will spark public backlash and lack staying power. With that in mind, good leadership means knowing when to step aside for the People.
Beyond Brazil, a lack of confidence can be seen elsewhere, including the United States. Despite a lack of satisfaction among their choices, Republicans voters have selected the controversial, often divisive, Donald Trump as their Nominee. Despite starting with 17 Republican candidates, Trump was the only one to sustain his frontrunner status. It is easy to assume supporters embrace him for his seemingly abusive, discriminatory stances, but it has more to do with America’s rejections of its dysfunctional, self-serving political elite, which is a sentiment shared across the political spectrum.
For citizens in developing countries like Brazil, the political situation in the US would be an improvement. While the kind of dysfunction in the US political system is currently less devastating than the kind of dysfunction seen in Brazil for decades, the lack of representation, the lack of responsiveness, and the failure to prioritize the interests of the American People above political agendas is the same. As such, the situation in the US can easily devolve into what is seen in Brazil. The government and the rest of the political world needs a new infusion of leadership and ideas that can address this lack of confidence in government. For that, the old must learn when to step aside.
Read old posts