After losing his reelection bid last October, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been treading a familiar path of late. Very familiar, in fact. It's so familiar that rather than repeating his name over and over, we're just going to give him a completely generic name for the purposes of retelling his very familiar tale. Let's call him Biff for now.
Starting over, then: Far-right Brazilian President Biff made quite a name for himself during his presidential tenure, promoting a far-right agenda so militant that his critics regularly accused him of promoting fascism. The nation’s citizens grew pretty damn tired of his nonsense, however, and faced with the possibility of losing reelection, Biff instead spread hoaxes to claim that the only way he could actually lose the election was due to widespread but invisible supposed corruption. Indeed, the nation spent weeks after his election loss wondering if Biff would stage a violent coup, using military force to nullify the election’s results after his claims of malfeasance proved to be nothing but narcissism-fueled protofascist Biffcrap.
Biff's supporters, however, got the message. The nation's hardest-right Biff supporters fervently called for a military and militia-backed coup rather than tolerate the nation being led by someone other than the blustering, oft-incompetent Biff. Far-right violence ensued, with the nation's radicals flocking to the capital in order to provide Biff their backing if and when he called them to action.
As a conspicuous aside: Many of the would-be coup supporters were armed militia groups newly enabled by Biff and his conservative party's loosening of national gun regulations.
Biff's false claims of fraud would eventually lead to a politically motivated attempted bombing. The militia-allied bomber, who was captured, said he arrived in the capitol so he could "join the protests" and "wait for the armed forces to authorize me to take up arms and destroy communism."
The story does not have a happy ending, but it doesn’t have the worst possible ending either, which is saying something given other events of this past decade. The coup plots that Biff tried to prod into being to erase his election defeat eventually sputtered out, primarily because they were planned by twits and enacted by even bigger twits. As the inauguration day for his successor neared, Biff began to begrudgingly accept reality, moving out of the presidential residence—taking with him a life-size sculpture of himself, among other things, because what narcissistic blowhard would leave behind personal memorabilia like that?
Oh, but Biff will not be attending the inauguration of the nation's new president. That he can't stomach. He is instead departing for Mar-a-Lago, where he will spend the day seething in the company of backers and supplicants.
And so we close out this very generic tale of a far-right, fascism-promoting, pandemic-botching narcissistic and quite possibly delusional Biff who attempted to egg his supporters into staging a violent coup rather than abide an embarrassing election loss, only to be rebuffed and to slink off to a Florida golf club rather than participate in the subsequent peaceful transfer of power.
What a weird, weird story, and yet somehow a very familiar one. As it turns out, nearly every would-be petty dictator in the world has a story vaguely similar to this one. We just don't often notice because it usually happens in places that are Not Here, but it feels like the sort of story we'll notice more often when it happens in the future.
The idea of ditching the inauguration of your successor so you can instead flee to a gaudy, overpriced Florida golf resort, though? Now that's tacky, even aside from the rest of it. Have some class, Biff!
What better way to wrap up the year than by previewing the biggest contests of 2023 on this week's episode of The Downballot? Progressives will want to focus on a Jan. 10 special election for the Virginia state Senate that would allow them to expand their skinny majority; the April 4 battle for the Wisconsin Supreme Court that could let progressives take control from conservatives; Chicago's mayoral race; gubernatorial contests in Kentucky and Louisiana; and much, much more.
Of course, we might've thought we were done with 2022 after Georgia, but Kyrsten Sinema decided to make herself the center of attention again. However, co-hosts David Nir and David Beard explain why there's much less than meets the eye to her decision to become an independent: She can't take away the Democratic majority in the Senate, and her chances at winning re-election are really poor. In fact, there's good reason to believe she'd hurt Republicans more in a three-way race. The Davids also discuss the upcoming special election for Virginia's dark blue 4th Congressional District, where the key battle for the Democratic nomination will take place in less than a week.