Petistas [members of the Brazilian Workers’ Party or PT] in Brazil and Democrats in the U.S. tend to embarrass elected presidents in the courts and in Congress.
Two of the world’s largest democracies – Brazil and the United States – will make choices at the ballot box only 10 days apart, which will leave thorny issues as an inheritance to those who have adhered to a trendy doctrine. Politicians should not go to the extremes of what rules allow in the struggle for power, according to this doctrine; otherwise, the liberal regime itself might be put at risk.
Delegitimizing the opponent’s victory, such as contesting it in court, would not be advisable. To seek the impeachment of a president elected by the people would not be acceptable either.
These tactics, although legal, would help erode the coexistence pact between opposing forces and turn the dispute into a free-for-all to crush the opposition.
Being more of a code of conduct than political theory, this pleading was very fruitful while those being accused of playing tough were figures such as Donald Trump and Steve Bannon in the United States and Aécio Neves and Michel Temer in Brazil.
The tables have turned. Judging by the odds, the Democrats will take the majority of seats over the Republicans in the House of Representatives and might start Trump’s impeachment proceedings. The Brazilian Workers’ Party seeks to contest in court the legitimacy of Jair Bolsonaro’s probable victory based on the WhatsApp scandal publicized by the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo.
What will aesthetes say about good manners in the new configuration – that Democrats should refuse to embarrass Trump? That Petistas [members of the Workers’ Party] need to put their heads down and peacefully accept Bolsonaro’s victory?
I doubt they will say that, just as I doubt they will recognize the basic error in their reasoning. It resides in the normative field of what we would like it to be and not in the positive field of what, unfortunately, it is.
It is not only expected that the Democrats and the PT will use their prerogatives to the full extent of the law in the dispute for power in a highly competitive partisan environment; it helps control the lust of powerful agents who should not play loosely.