But it is precisely now that Lula, and Brazil, have chosen to respond by acting on their dreams, not their fears. Yes, they say, to eliminating hunger. Yes, to doubling the minimum wage. Yes, to expanding health care. Yes, to more schools. And yes, to a more equitable trading position with the richer countries of the world.
And what do we hear? We who live in the richest corner of the Earth, after a decade of the richest times? Only a thundering cascade of no, no, no. No tax relief for the poor -- for that would be “class warfare.” No new money for public schools, for that would be “throwing good money after bad.” No rise in the minimum wage because that would be unfair to business. No national solution to the crisis of 50 million without health care because that would be “like going to the post office to see a doctor.”
Brazilians live precariously with the greatest of hopes. And we live with fabulous potential that is the legitimate envy of the globe, and we have, seemingly, no hope.
Or at least none that we are willing to seriously fight for. For in all this, George W. Bush carries no blame. He is merely the product of our congealed aspirations -- or lack of them. Just as in Brazil Lula is but a symbol of something much larger. “I wasn’t elected by a TV commercial, or by a collection of powerful interests,” he said humbly to the crowd in front of him. “Nor was I elected because of my intelligence or personality. I was elected by the intelligence and political consciousness of the Brazilian people, who have fought for 40 years for what they have wanted.”