Trump’s electoral fiction floats free of verifiable reality. It is defended not so much by facts as by claims that someone else has made some claims. The sensibility is that something must be wrong because I feel it to be wrong, and I know others feel the same way. When political leaders such as Ted Cruz or Jim Jordan spoke like this, what they meant was: You believe my lies, which compels me to repeat them. Social media provides an infinity of apparent evidence for any conviction, especially one seemingly held by a president.
But the unpredictable behavior of Brazilian voters can also lead to more baffling outcomes. In 1959, for example, Cacareco, a placid, middle-aged rhinoceros at the São Paulo zoo, was voted onto the city council, having won over 100,000 votes—and this is only the most famous case in Brazil’s long history of “protest votes.” Cacerco has been succeeded by other non-existent candidates, along with candidates from outside the sphere of professional politics, such as soccer players, fashion designers, Lilia M. Schwarcz in the New York Review of Books, writing on Brazilian democracystars, brash pop singers, faded ex-models, and various C-list celebrities with zero knowledge or experience of political life. – BACK TO TOP