Don’t talk about Politics in Brazil

The Brazilian system of politics is very polarized. Now, I know some Canadians may look to our southern neighbors and think we understand polarization, but there is really no comparison. Americans are just more polarized than Canadians, but they can’t really hold a candle to Brazil.

In Brazil, there really is no longer any semblance of a center. To understand their political parties, imagine one political extremist scaremongering describing their opponent. Unfortunately, that’s actually a fairly good description of each of the major political sides in Brazil. Minha Esposa (my wife) even lost some very close friends after the last election, simply because she said that there were good people and bad people that voted for both, and could everyone agree that they hoped Brazil would prosper. That should be an incredibly innocuous statement, hoping that the leaders do a good job, and that one’s country prospers, but she was hated by both sides – how dare she suggest that anyone with any good in them could vote for the “other side”? And the vitrol with which they hate the other side’s leader, you aren’t even allowed to hope they do a good job. The best you are allowed to say is that you hope they don’t screw up too much. Meanwhile, the supporters of a candidate celebrate a win with fireworks and giant parties in the street; cheering so loud it seems like Brazil just won the World Cup.

You should also consider that it is unlikely you will get an unbiased political source in Canada. It is hard enough to get those on our own politicians, and we see our government every day. I’ve seen massively cherry picked articles in Canada about Brazil, and when I ask Minha Esposa about the context, I find out there is significantly more to the story, which sometimes changes the entire situation.

Corruption is also very common in the government in Brazil. Even the Brazilians who champion fighting against corruption are tarred and feathered with allegations of corruption against them, sometimes as scare tactics, and sadly, sometimes because its true.

I have only once been asked by a stranger (a single-serving friend) about my political opinion in Brazil, and that was because I was there during the election. I did not shy away from the discussion because I did not know better, but I lucked out because I agreed with him. Since that time, I’ve learned more about the tense political climate, and nowadays, I would simply say “being Canadian, it is hard to follow politics in Brazil. I just hope the candidate who is best for the country wins.”