Winning at the polls is the least difficult

Image: Marcelo Moreira


Electing Lula will be an uphill battle, but it is just a first step in this long-lasting war against neo-fascism.

"It´sa long long long long long way – it´s a long road, it´s a long and wild road, long long long and wild road" (Caetano Veloso).

The good old PIG (Partido da Imprensa Coupista) has been delighted to cover, spice up and amplify real behind-the-scenes disputes that take place in the national leadership of the PT and in the nucleus of the Lula campaign – the group loves to fight internally for the Panel of the Folha de S. Paul and by Mônica Bergamo, an ingrained habit.

They are intestinal disputes, generally little politicized, ideological, conceptual and theoretical. They sound like those nudges typical of palatial kitchens. There's only one detail. Lula did not win the election. And Bolsonaro grows with each poll.

Bolsonaro's victory in 2018 and his government are related to the 2016 coup. As much as the record of a good part of the left (and the PT) seems to never fall – not even with Lula's arrest – the fact is that the alliance between neofascism and neoliberalism represents a qualitative leap. The 1988 Constitution is not in force, formal rites aside.

By annulling the arrest of his radicalized ally with a pen, the neo-fascist president puts the permanent coup card back in the game. He returns to question the already shattered foundations of Brazilian liberal democracy.

Jair Bolsonaro strongly resumed the coup signs like those of September 7, 2021, after many months pretending to eat with cutlery and without belching at the table. It was enough for most of the "liberals" upstairs, frustrated with the failure of Sérgio Moro, João Doria, Eduardo Leite, and the so-called "third way", to re-embark on the former captain's ship (simulating embarrassment some, others smiling cynically).

The internal big bourgeoisie supported Bolsonaro in 2018 in that context of the international rise of “trumpism”. And he is supporting it again – he already understands that it is the only way to try to stop a possible new Lula government. Bolsonaro knows this.

2022 is not 2002. Bolsonarism is not the toucan neoliberalism of Covas, FHC and Serra. Bolsonaro has been growing in the polls because he keeps his organic base united, operates emergency social policies and at the same time places himself as the only alternative to the PT. Everything indicates that the so-called “market” goes along the same lines: “you don't have to, you do it yourself”.

Whether you like Lula's alliance with the toucan from Pindamonhangaba or not (and I'm among those who consider it a huge mistake), the fact is that, at least up to this point, Geraldo only brought “Dona Lu”. There is no sign of displacement of fractions of the ruling classes in Lula's direction due to the odd composition with the former governor of São Paulo.

Everything indicates that by re-aggregating the elites while keeping his base mobilized and following the king of social networks (in four years we have learned almost nothing), Bolsonaro not only stabilizes an upward bias, but must give a lot, a lot of work in the second round.

And then? If Lula is defeated, will the president accept the results? How many “motociatas” and how many Daniel Silveira will question the polls and the result? The most important thing: will the militia that are at the center of the Bolsonaro government, in charge and enjoying themselves, accept the result or will we see smoking tanks parading through the capitals again?

Lula taking office, what will the neo-fascist opposition to the new government look like? Home, neither Bolsonaro nor his Bolsonarist gang will go. Again: this will not be a “normal” opposition. The democracy of 1988, with all its limits, will not be magically restored with a Lula victory at the polls in October. In other words: neo-fascism will follow. Even if we defeat him electorally, which, I emphasize, is not guaranteed.

Instead of diluting, sterilizing, dehydrating, becoming tasteless, the Lula campaign must double down on polarization. Not only on the issue of democratic freedoms versus authoritarian neo-fascism, but on economic, social and people's rights issues.

More than remembering the “good times”, the Lula campaign needs to embody a movement in favor of social and labor rights, for economic growth, food on people's tables, employment, social well-being, respect for diversity, structural transformations. It needs to point to the future and not boast about past accomplishments.

And the main thing: it is necessary to understand that Lula's campaign should not be strictly electoral. It needs to be political, social, mobilizing, ideological, partisan, left-wing, popular-democratic.

Understanding that to take office it is not enough to have more votes. It needs to have social strength to guarantee it. It's not enough to bring Geraldo, we're going to have to win majorities for our ideas and structure our organization in the territories. Bolsonarism will not disappear if Bolsonaro is a minority at the polls. Also because there will be a second round: it will be hotly contested and bloody. No illusions.

The biggest challenge for the left, for the popular and democratic sectors, is to live up to this war against neo-fascism. It is up to the PT and Lula not only to lead the electoral journey, but above all to arm the majority of the people politically and ideologically – creating the best conditions for the clash against neoliberalism and Bolsonarism.

It's a long, long journey that starts now. Neither neofascism nor neoliberalism. A campaign, a program, a popular-democratic tactic. A combative and mobilizing “vibe”, which makes people fall in love and engage. More like 1989 than 2002 – defeating the fascists on all terrains.

* Julian Rodrigues, professor and journalist, is a PT militant and LGBTI and human rights activist.


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