by Fausto Freire
Lula da Silva’s line of defense against being convicted, arrested and not being allowed to run in the presidential election is very similar to Donald Trump’s defense strategy. Both claim to have done much for their countries. In other words, they judge themselves above the law because they are popular and have done a “good job.”
Lula da Silva insists on keeping his candidacy, even though he is in prison and, legally, prevented from exercising any public or administrative position. In an interview with Fox News, Trump said that ‘market would crash’ if Democrats impeached him. “I do not know how you can impeach somebody who’s done a great job,” he said, concluding that without him in office, “everyone would get very poor.”
Lula da Silva and Trump are equal in their respective political populism. Although the two claim to be from opposing ideological sides, their political practices are of the same type. Simplistic reasoning, aggression against opponents, verbal radicalism and presenting society as being divided between “us against them.”
People with this irresponsible stance seem to be favored by public opinion. How could representative democracy create defense mechanisms against these and other adventurers who use the intuitive reasoning of the masses to gain sympathy and gain power? Undoubtedly, unscrupulous politicians are more apt to speak what people want to hear, whether or not it is true.
The system of checks and balances that should regulate the democratic system seems to fail before corrupt and populist politicians. Political parties should be the filter to prevent these impurities from reaching the uninformed citizen. However, experience shows that this filter does not work, neither in Brazil nor in most democratic countries.