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What the Election in Brazil Can Teach America

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Brazil held a presidential election last Sunday. Here's how The Wall Street Journal reported the result: "Brazilians elected Luiz 'Lula' da Silva to the presidency again on Sunday, ousting incumbent Jair Bolsonaro by less than two percent of the vote. Latin America's largest country is gambling again on left-wing populism that has failed so often in the past."


Did that last part strike you as familiar, because it is so often replicated here? To repeat: "left-wing populism ... that has failed so often in the past."

Liberalism, even socialism extending in some countries to communism, continues to spread in South and Central America. Why?

I think it has something to do with intentions and feelings. It doesn't matter whether an idea or program works, only that people feel good about themselves by advocating for them. In this failed philosophy, intentions matter more than outcomes.

Luiz da Silva vowed to help the poor. If he had the power and will to help the poor, presumably to elevate themselves out of poverty rather than sustain them in it, why didn't he do so during his two previous presidencies, from 2003 to 2011? Did no one in the media, or his opponent, bother to ask him that question? And what about the voters? Why would they vote for someone who failed to perform on two previous occasions?

North American liberals promise a better life for people who vote for them. Record spending on anti-poverty programs has failed to reverse poverty and yet people continue to vote for liberal Democrats, believing their empty promises. Instead, we get higher taxes, more debt and a social agenda that is tearing the country apart.


A few years ago, I wrote a book called "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America." In it I tried to bridge the gap between left and right by asking legislators to center on programs that have succeeded and discard those that have failed.

This is the way businesses operate. If a sales plan isn't working and one's competition is doing better, you have two choices: double-down on failure, or change plans. Only in government do failed and costly programs go on forever. A government bureau, as Ronald Reagan once said, "...is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!"

With a predicted Republican majority in the House and possibly the Senate after next week's midterm election, Republicans must focus on cutting spending by examining and keeping programs that work and repealing those that don't live up to their legislative goals. Social Security and Medicare also must be reformed to preserve both programs. The left will devolve to its usual scare tactics that Republicans want to eliminate both. The GOP better have a credible answer this time

What could be ahead for Brazil was also summarized by the Journal: "(da Silva) won with his appeals to the poor despite his conviction for corruption. Before his Workers' Party (PT) ceded power in 2016, it orchestrated the largest corruption scheme in Latin American history, using the national development bank, the state-owned oil company, Congress and private contractors. The money machine was designed to entrench his party in power."


Sound familiar? It is not common sense to continue to vote for politicians who make promises and don't deliver and simultaneously are stained by corruption.

Brazil and much of the rest of Latin America, is flirting with economic, social and political disaster by embracing left-wing populism. North Americans would do well to take note and vote accordingly and intelligently.

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