Behavior is contagious — good behavior and bad behavior. It seems that Brazil has caught a terrible bout of insurrection-itis from the United States.
On Sunday, protesters in South America’s largest country attacked their own seat of government in a scene eerily familiar to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Thousands of supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro attacked their own Congress, Supreme Court, and presidential offices. They broke windows, destroyed furniture, and looted offices. Like the attackers in the United States, the Brazilian rioters were fighting what they had been told was a stolen election. And like his American counterpart, the far-right Bolsonaro refused to concede the election held in October and skipped the inauguration of the new president on Jan. 1. If the playbook sounds familiar, it is no coincidence. Bolsonaro had been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, and Bolsonaro’s son had been consulting with Steve Bannon and other Trump allies about contesting the results of the election in Brazil.
There was a time not long ago when the United States was a beacon for democracy. America served as a shining example that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people could flourish. Other countries adopted our constitutional model of government. But now, it seems, the copycats are replicating not only our best practices, but also our worst.