By now it would be trite to say that from watching our airwaves for the last month, Americans can scarcely be aware of the wider world.
But one coincidence seems particularly ironic: while we are hoping against hope that our country will not be delivered into the hands of right-wing fanatics (as Marcos Moulitsas correctly analyses them in American Taliban, just out at PoliPointPress), the largest country in Latin America and undisputed leader of the BRIC countries that also include Russia, India and China, rejoices over the election of a female president who was once not a witch, but a Marxist guerilla.
The daughter of a Bulgarian immigrant and a schoolteacher, Dilma Rousseff was jailed and tortured by the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985. She went on to study economics, but most of her energies were invested in Brazil’s long political fight. After serving as President Lula da Silva’s Minister of Energy, she became his Chief of Staff in 2005, and Sunday was voted President of a country roughly the size of the United States, with the fifth largest population of the world.
While many Americans want to ‘take their country back’ to the time when average life expectancy was about fifty, when there were no iphones or ipads, no TV, no movies, no cars or planes and it took weeks to cross the Atlantic, Brazil, a country forty percent of whose population is of mixed origins, has elected its second Workers’ Party president.
Lula da Silva, the outgoing two-term president, has been called the most popular leader in the world, and I personally think he should be the next U.N. Secretary General. To our own president’s dismay, Lula is not only a major figure in the new Union of South American States, he negotiates worldwide, including with Iran’s Ahmedinejad.
Perhaps if Obama had sided with the Lula’s and Dilmas of this world, as the popular force that brought him to the White House wanted him too, Americans could be climbing up from darkness, instead of facing what could well turn out to be a right-wing coup.