The Far Right In Brazil

The Rise Of The Far Right In Brazil Is Alarmingly Similar To What's Happening In The United States Today

Only time will tell whether or not Bolsonaro's reign will bring about true reform in Brazil.

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This past New Year's Day, Brazil's new president Jair Bolsonaro ascended to the Planalto, the presidential palace of Brazil, as his supporters crowded the streets of Brasilia to proclaim the dawn of a new age free form the corruption, crime, and economic mismanagement that had plagued the nation since the 1980s.

His election to office was in stark contrast to the historically well-connected left-wing politicians that have dominated Brazil's political landscape in the past three decades — much like our current president Donald Trump, Bolsonaro emerged as a relatively unknown candidate with seemingly deficient political experience (despite having served seven terms in Brazil's lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies) who propelled himself to preeminence with fiery rhetoric criticizing the left-wing ideologies that have, he claims, saddled Brazil with rising crime rates and a deplorable economic standing after its worst-ever recession from 2014-2016, leading to a wide-margin victory over Fernando Haddad of the left-wing Workers' Party on October 28th.

The former Army captain stocked his cabinet full of technocrats, ideologues, and former Army officers, vowing to end the ideology of socialism that has ruined the nation. Some of his policies include prioritizing the fight against crime through encouragement of police violence against criminals, advocating for deregulation and fiscal discipline in order to create a new cycle to open markets and carry out structural reforms to tackle the public deficit, loosening gun control laws by issuing a decree to allow citizens who did not have a criminal record to own guns, and breaking away from alliances with developing nations in favor of adopting Western foreign policies — particularly in the relocation of the Brazilian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, an incontestable breach of the Republic's traditional support for a two-state solution to the Palestinian issue.

While Bolsonaro is backed massively by a large majority of conservative sectors of the conservative community, his policies have polarized the country in much the same manner that President Trump's administration has incited division across the United States. While many supporters are increasingly optimistic for the possibility of economic revival (approximately 65% of Brazilians feel that the administration's policies could benefit the economy), others grow increasingly worried about his penchant for degrading the LGBTQ community, racial minorities, as well as his apparent praise of Brazil's old military dictatorship.

On his very first day in office, Bolsonaro issued an order removing the rights of the LGBTQ community and indigenous residents from consideration by the new human rights ministry. Under his executive orders, it will be nearly impossible for new lands to be identified and demarcated for indigenous communities, and the LGBTQ community will no longer have an agency to represent their concerns for fair treatment.

In addition, environmentalists have been alarmed about Bolsonaro's vow to follow Trump's example and pull Brazil out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Finally, his efforts to block moves to legalize abortion and remove sex education from public schools has showcased his denigration for women and their rights.

It is still too early to know whether or not President Bolsonaro's policies will be able to change the tide of Brazil's international status as a nation plagued by corruption and rising crime, but it is worth noting his similarities to our own President Donald Trump and the potential side effects that his proposed solutions could have on Brazilian economic, sociopolitical, and international life for all Brazilians. Only time will tell whether or not his reign will bring about true reform in Brazil.

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An Open Letter To Democrats From A Millennial Republican

Why being a Republican doesn't mean I'm inhuman.
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Dear Democrats,

I have a few things to say to you — all of you.

You probably don't know me. But you think you do. Because I am a Republican.

Gasp. Shock. Horror. The usual. I know it all. I hear it every time I come out of the conservative closet here at my liberal arts university.

SEE ALSO: What I Mean When I Say I'm A Young Republican

“You're a Republican?" people ask, saying the word in the same tone that Draco Malfoy says “Mudblood."

I know that not all Democrats feel about Republicans this way. Honestly, I can't even say for certain that most of them do. But in my experience, saying you're a Republican on a liberal college campus has the same effect as telling someone you're a child molester.

You see, in this day and age, with leaders of the Republican Party standing up and spouting unfortunately ridiculous phrases like “build a wall," and standing next to Kim Davis in Kentucky after her release, we Republicans are given an extreme stereotype. If you're a Republican, you're a bigot. You don't believe in marriage equality. You don't believe in racial equality. You don't believe in a woman's right to choose. You're extremely religious and want to impose it on everyone else.

Unfortunately, stereotypes are rooted in truth. There are some people out there who really do think these things and feel this way. And it makes me mad. The far right is so far right that they make the rest of us look bad. They make sure we aren't heard. Plenty of us are fed up with their theatrics and extremism.

For those of us brave enough to wear the title “Republican" in this day and age, as millennials, it's different. Many of us don't agree with these brash ideas. I'd even go as far as to say that most of us don't feel this way.

For me personally, being a Republican doesn't even mean that I automatically vote red.

When people ask me to describe my political views, I usually put it pretty simply. “Conservative, but with liberal social views."

“Oh," they say, “so you're a libertarian."

“Sure," I say. But that's the thing. I'm not really a libertarian.

Here's what I believe:

I believe in marriage equality. I believe in feminism. I believe in racial equality. I don't want to defund Planned Parenthood. I believe in birth control. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I believe in welfare. I believe more funds should be allocated to the public school system.

Then what's the problem? Obviously, I'm a Democrat then, right?

Wrong. Because I have other beliefs too.

Yes, I believe in the right to choose — but I'd always hope that unless a pregnancy would result in the bodily harm of the woman, that she would choose life. I believe in welfare, but I also believe that our current system is broken — there are people who don't need it receiving it, and others who need it that cannot access it.

I believe in capitalism. I believe in the right to keep and bear arms, because I believe we have a people crisis on our hands, not a gun crisis. Contrary to popular opinion, I do believe in science. I don't believe in charter schools. I believe in privatizing as many things as possible. I don't believe in Obamacare.

Obviously, there are other topics on the table. But, generally speaking, these are the types of things we millennial Republicans get flack for. And while it is OK to disagree on political beliefs, and even healthy, it is NOT OK to make snap judgments about me as a person. Identifying as a Republican does not mean I am the same as Donald Trump.

Just because I am a Republican, does not mean you know everything about me. That does not give you the right to make assumptions about who I am as a person. It is not OK for you to group me with my stereotype or condemn me for what I feel and believe. And for a party that prides itself on being so open-minded, it shocks me that many of you would be so judgmental.

So I ask you to please, please, please reexamine how you view Republicans. Chances are, you're missing some extremely important details. If you only hang out with people who belong to your own party, chances are you're missing out on great people. Because, despite what everyone believes, we are not our stereotype.

Sincerely,

A millennial Republican

Cover Image Credit: NEWSWORK.ORG

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Sweden Is 'The Best Example Of Socialism'... Because It Isn't Socialism

They don't use real examples of socialism, because socialism has no success story.

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According to Merriam Webster, socialism is defined as: "Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods."

The most important reason that Sweden is not socialist is: the government does not own the means of production. In fact, they have a freer market than the United States. Swedish historian, Johan Norberg, explains that "when it comes to free markets, when it comes to competition and when it comes to free trade, Sweden is actually more free market [than the United States]."

Norberg is the host of a documentary called "Sweden: Lessons for America?" in which he discusses why defenses of socialism based on the success of Nordic countries are unevidenced and wrong.

Norberg admits that there was a point in history where Sweden's government did resemble socialism, in the 1970s and 1980s, during which the government taxed and spent heavily. The result, he explains was "[the] economy in crisis, inflation reached 10 percent, and for a brief period, interest rates soared to 500 percent. At that point, the Swedish population just said, 'Enough, we can't do this.'" After the brief experiment, it was over. Today's Sweden is not socialist.

The reason many fierce protectors of socialism cite Sweden and other Nordic countries as their prime example is that Sweden has a larger welfare state and higher taxes than the United States. As I mentioned earlier, however, their market is freer than ours.

Sweden is a gleaming, successful country that socialists and "democratic" socialists point to as a socialist success story in order to sell it here in America. If you want to see a real example of socialism, where the government owns the means of production, Norberg says you would have to go to Cuba, Venezuela, or North Korea.

They don't use real examples of socialism, because socialism has no success story.

If socialists campaigned with the example of Venezuela, which would be truthful advertising, no one would join their cause. Today, Venezuelans wait in lines for a diminishing supply of food, experience widespread blackouts, and have an inflation rate projected to hit 10,000,000% this year. This is socialism.

It's not full of glitz, glamour and happy faces of people whose government has provided for them. The reality is astronomical tax rates, a government who's spending severely outweighs its revenue, and a decrease in quality of life for the masses.

In America, we have economic inequality, but our "poor" are better off than the majority of the world's population. According to a Forbes article, "The poor in the US are richer than around 70% of all the people extant."

It seems that proponents of socialism would rather have a society in which everyone is equally impoverished.

The other aspect that socialism lacks, but capitalism has in spades is social mobility. People have the opportunity to move from one socioeconomic class to another through the free enterprise system. In a socialist society, everyone is in the same socioeconomic class with no means of ever moving higher.

The socialist illusion is that when someone becomes wealthier, someone else becomes poorer. This is false. For example, a Forbes article discussing poverty and economic inequality states, "Roughly one billion people in China alone have been lifted out of poverty in about two generations. This has been accomplished through the introduction of more capitalism into the Chinese economic system."

While economic inequality in China has increased, poverty has decreased. The two are not associated. Regardless of the difference in wealth, they have all become wealthier.

Capitalism allows creativity to flourish, and people to produce new ideas. Those ideas can be further innovated by other people, and all of these things increase the quality of life within society. People can create their own success, and grow their wealth. This would not be possible in a socialist society.

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