Donald Trump flirted with dictators throughout his presidency, claimed fraud deprived him of re-election and incited the January 6 insurrection that offered hardliners everywhere a tutorial on useful demonstrations of force. Now the strongmen are flirting back.
“We are witnessing the greatest election fraud in the history of the country, in my opinion in the history of any democracy,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week, echoing Trump as he smeared an unusual political coalition formed to unseat him.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro faces re-election next year and has already lashed out at his country’s courts and made baseless claims of voter fraud. He has refused to condemn the January 6 siege in the US because, he said, there were “a lot of reports of fraud”. Should he “have problems” in Brazil, he said he would deploy the military to solve them.
Netanyahu and Bolsonaro have absorbed a valuable lesson from Trump: If you co-opt the imagination and intentions of enough members of your own party and your voters, you can persuade them to buy into your lies and rise up on your behalf when power slips from your grasp. Israel’s variant of Trumpism, however, might show something about how to push back against a movement that is fundamentally anti-democratic and may endure as a global political force longer than Trump himself.
Read the article by Timothy L. O’Brien in The Age.