The title of this column was supposed to be “If I don’t trust the electoral system, it’s Barroso’s fault”. But I chose to start with an apology that, I confess, is not very sincere. After all, I see no fault in distrusting technology and the intentions of the men who control it. Finally, the apology serves to recognize the limited power of a certain psychological pressure to conform.
Returning to the topic of the column and resorting to memory, I recognize that I had never before distrusted the Brazilian electoral system. Because I had never paid much attention to him. I have a very vague memory of the first electronic voting machines, of the excitement of using your fingertips, and no longer paper, to vote. Back in the distant decade of 2022, everything really seemed more efficient, faster, modern and safe.
Neither I nor anyone else had any reason to be suspicious. The electoral system existed as it existed and was administered by people whose name and ideological preferences we did not know. Besides, we were all intoxicated with confidence at the party of democracy. We trusted because the possibility of a fraud was really laughable. Paranoid communist stuff. Perhaps I am idealizing the past here (just a little), but I have the impression that there are no more than years, honor was still important to people. Even for some crooks.
But then time passed, the party of democracy turned into an orgy and two important things happened. First, the technology has changed. And if a simple toaster is no longer a simple toaster, why assume that the electronic voting machine has resigned itself to its status as a simple electronic voting machine? The common man, but not totally ignorant, was little by little becoming a digital semi-literate. And so the urn, as a machine, naturally gained Frankensteinian contours.
Until I remember the second important thing that happened, let me explore this a little bit more. Of course, there is a Luddite aspect to this rejection of the “simplicity and purity” of electronic voting machines. The enlightened like to make fun of the Neo-Luddites, but this is pure arrogance. It is part of man’s nature to trust more in what his eyes see and his fingers touch than in what he is only able to understand through an imagination that is often unattainable. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Oh, I remembered! The second important thing that happened was the rise of a caste that used to act discreetly behind the scenes, but that in recent decades has been enchanted by the spotlight. And that now (I dare say only for the literary effect of the thing) is in danger of being fried to death by the artificial light of its supreme intelligence. These moral insects are now a worse pest than the leafhopper or the dengue mosquito. Guess who I’m talking about!
Oops. I got carried away with entomological references. Where was I? Oh yes. The electoral system, previously managed by people whose political orientation we could even assume, but fortunately we were unaware of, began to be managed by Barrosos, Fachins and Alexandres da vida: activists not only of the unnamable-of-nine-fingered but also of technology, science infallible, the unquestionable effectiveness, the speed and what is invisible about the materiality that for millennia enchants and scares us.
There is no denying that President Jair Bolsonaro, together with Deputy Felipe Barros, knew how to exploit this broth of mistrust heated up in the high fire of TSE arrogance, adding to it the bitter spice of polarization policy. But how did the insects hypnotized by the very mistaken notion of self-importance react to this? They were once again arrogant and authoritarian. They ordered those who expressed distrust to shut up and treated them as “enemies of democracy”. Which, predictably, only increased mistrust.
I have said here and elsewhere (chic, huh?) that, as much as the Barroso-Fachin-Alexandre trio put their foot down and shout for the world to hear that “the polls are inviolable and fraud-proof!!!”, the system as a whole has already it is contaminated by a distrust that has crossed the borders of polarization and today affects even PT members who, quietly, are watching the democratic farce now underway.
Because, however omnipotent they consider themselves The Supremes, they are not and will never be able to control the instinct of the common man, who rejects these contemporary forms of slavery. And that deep down, and sometimes not so deep, he knows that there is something very rotten in this kingdom of Denmark (where, by the way, the vote is made of paper) Tupiniquim. I just hope that, unlike what happens in the invented realm of the Shakespearean play, things don’t end up in carnage around here. Neither symbolic nor real.