In a video published by The Intercept on Monday, U.S. journalist and constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Brazil, breaks down the top lessons for Western democracies from the rise and ultimate victory of Brazil's newly elected fascist, misogynistic, racist, and homophobic president, Jair Bolsonaro.
Greenwald challenges the popular Western media narrative that Brazil's new leader is the President Donald Trump of the Tropics, calling it "woefully inadequate—in fact, wildly misleading." Bolsonaro poses a far graver danger to basic human rights and democracy, Greenwald argues, because he previously was part of a military dictatorship and wants to reimpose it; Brazil's institutions are newer and far more fragile than other democracies, limiting accountability; and he comes from the right-wing movement of the 1960s and 1970s—which obsessed about an "existential war" with Communism—rather than today's emerging reactionary movements in the U.S. and Europe that focus on stoking xenophobia while attacking social programs and democratic institutions.
Bolsonaro's victory, he explains, largely comes not from voters who support his hatred toward marginalized groups, but from poor people, people of color, LGBTQ people, and women "who voted for him despite that out of desperation and hopelessness." The lesson to take from Brazil is, according to Greenwald, "when the establishment class fails a huge portion of the population for enough time and to enough of an extent, sooner or later they will decide that it is the ruling class that is their enemy and they will run into the arms of anybody who they perceive as being its enemy and who is threatening to tear it down."