Bolsonaro and Trump Far-Right Populist Demagogues

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In today’s world, Trump’s face is plastered all over global news for his questionable views and inflammatory remarks. From his past statements, whether they were sexist or racist, to his far-right views, many have considered Trump to be a very controversial and polarizing leader, which can be very problematic. Trump’s approval ratings, in general, have been decently low with his lowest approval rate around 35% and his highest approval rate around 45%, while his disapproval ratings peaked around a 60% recently (Gallup). On the other hand, the new Brazilian president-elect, Bolsonaro, has had around a 45% disapproval rate, while he has also said a decent amount of controversial statements as well (Far-Right Candidate Jair Bolsonaro). Even though Bolsonaro can have many similarities drawn to Trump – especially with his far-right views and controversial statements – some of Bolosaro’s views seem to extend further right and evoke far more polarizing opinions, with journalists like Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman calling Bolsonaro the most hated elected official in the democratic world.

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Bolsonaro and Trump seem to share such problematic opinions, which doesn’t only cause unsure feelings on what the new Brazilian president-elect will mean for Brazil’s future, but also uncertainty for the general near-future of world politics. However, Bolsonaro and Trump still seem to vary on the extent and degree of those opinions. Although it may seem hard to believe that either Bolsonaro or Trump won their presidential elections especially with some of their offensive comments and problematic behavior, it is still important to consider the fact that both Bolsonaro and Trump excelled at appealing to people through their anti-corruption based presidential campaigns and attracting media attention through means of both social media and the news.

Sexism and Misogyny

Many of the controversial and offensive statements made by both Bolsonaro and Trump originated years before either of them announced their run for presidency. Both leaders have been criticized for many of their misogynistic and sexist comments, which tended to be especially sexually charged and degrading. Bolsonaro stated in 2014 that one of Brazil’s congresswomen, Maria do Ros??rio, was not worth raping and that she is very ugly. He even went as far as to say, I’m not a rapist, but if I were, I wouldn’t rape her because she doesn’t deserve it (Anderson). Although Bolsonaro ended up being fined around $2,500 worth of money in US dollars, that punishment arguably did not seem too bad compared to the vile comments he made about the congresswoman. Not only was Bolsonaro unprofessional in bringing up Ros??rio’s physical appearance and insulting it, but he was also very wrong to reduce her worth only to her appearance and in casually making those remarks around as serious as a topic as rape. Trump, in his many years of insensitive comments towards women and notoriously known for the p***y grabbing video, has also belittled women based on their looks, attacking various women including those who are as famous as German gold medalist Katarina Witt, Angelina Jolie, Cher, Heidi Klum, and Miss Universe 1996 Alicia Machado (Cohen).

While both Bolsonaro and Trump have made comments that tried to reduce women to their physical appearances, they have also shown they do not think of women as equal to men in different ways; Trump has degraded the value of women to how they please their husbands and blamed women for the problems in their relationships, while Bolsonaro has attributed weakness to women. Trump tweeted in August 28, 2012 how he fully understands why her former husband left her for a man, and in April 16, 2015 how she probably can’t satisfy America based on how she wasn’t able to satisfy her husband. Of course, aside from Trump’s commentating on Hillary’s marriage, he was also known to often interrupt her in presidential debates, but Hillary’s case wasn’t the only time Trump hadn’t behaved professionally towards women during his political career. Trump had also insulted his Republican rival, Carly Fiorina, in September 9, 2015 by asking if anyone can imagine her as the face of the next US president. Even more recently, Trump has commented on the good shape of Brigitte Trogneux, the French First Lady (Cohen). Consistently, throughout time, Trump has shown to reduce women only to their looks, which apparently seems to be the most important thing about women to him. In April 2017, a part of Bolsonaro’s speech caught some negative attention, when he stated that his fifth child and only daughter was produced in a moment of weakness, which was shocking to hear since it is about his very own daughter but which also reflected his misogynistic views by indirectly yet clearly equating women to weakness (Anderson).

In addition to Bolsonaro’s commentary on reducing women to physical appearances and attributing weakness to women, which are very fundamental issues on the value of individual women, Bolsonaro also brought up more external issues, such as equal pay when he argued in a 2015 interview with Zero Hora that men and women should not receive the same pay, because women get pregnant. This is not to say that the issue of equal pay does not matter and is just disposable, but it is only to say that the reduction of a woman’s value to beauty and that the attribution of weakness are core problems relating to human value (in this case, a woman’s value). While unequal pay is unjust, it also isn’t right to argue that the pay that men and women receive is according to their value, because then that argument at the very core would be equating all humans to money in a way, instead of looking at them holistically.

Alongside the opposition of equal pay for women, Bolsonaro also opposed paid maternity leave (with the claim that it harms productivity) and abortion (Anderson). Trump has also been similar to Bolsonaro in his stance to abortion in that they are both firmly pro-life. Although he had previously been pro-choice years before, he recently changed his view to extremely pro-life during and after the presidential election, when he said that women who have abortions should be punished, only unless they were in instances of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother was at stake (Cohen). However, Trump then changed his position only a couple of hours later to that doctors allow these abortions to happen are the ones to be punished, which wasn’t a view that was all that much better.

Both Trump and Bolsonaro do not seem to realize that not allowing abortion is intruding the rights and freedom of the women who might want to have those abortions for whichever reason, no matter how personal. Abortions shouldn’t be up to anyone else, but the women since it is their body and since raising children is a big deal. It’s not a business that anyone should be so intrusive about. And no one should be forced to raise children, if they are not ready, since children are a huge responsibility and a great investment of time and money. Being forced to raise children doesn’t do any good for either the child or the mother and can be problematic in the end. Although both Trump and Bolsonaro are shown to degrade women to only their physical appearances and to restrict women’s rights to abortion, Trump’s sexism and misogyny seems to focus mostly on looks, while Bolsonaro’s seems to branch out much more and seems even more serious than Trump’s as Bolsonaro attributes weakness to women and seems to freely and very much casually talk about rape as though it weren’t so heavy of a topic as it actually is.

Racism, Immigration Reduction, and Foreign Relations

Not only have both President-Elect Bolsonaro and President Trump discriminated against the opposite sex, but they have also gone on record to make racist comments in addition to the aforementioned sexist ones. Both Bolsonaro and Trump have explicitly outright offended certain countries, with Bolsonaro calling African, Haitian, and Middle Eastern immigrants the scum of humanity and Trump referring to some African countries, El Salvador, Haiti, and Honduras as sh*thole countries (Anderson). In addition, Bolsonaro has also insulted indigenous and Quilombolas communities (who are descendants of Afro-Brazilian slaves) when he indirectly suggested that they were lazy (Kirby). His easy succumbing to making such rude generalizations and stereotypes shows his racist tendencies. There can be a parallel drawn to Bolsonaro’s stereotype-making with Trump as well, when Trump generalized many Mexicans during a speech as drug dealers, criminals, and rapists and talked about building a wall. Both Bolsonaro and Trump want to reduce immigration, while expressing their reasoning for it in a very racist and controversial way which causes some of their foreign relations to suffer.

Besides the usage of racism to try to justify views, Bolsonaro has also hurt some diplomatic relations through certain suggestions, actions, and comments. One was his considering making Jerusalem the new location for Brazil’s embassy rather than Tel Aviv, something similar to what Trump has done. However, the consequences of doing so would complicate and potentially cut ties with Cuba. In addition to this suggestion, Bolsonaro had already commented that the Cuban government treated their medical professionals like slaves, which led to their withdrawal of over 8,000 doctors who had been helping in impoverished areas of Brazil. In doing so, Bolsonaro seems to keeping pouring oil over the fire; but this was to be somewhat expected, as many of his statements are incendiary. Brazil’s relations with Cuba wasn’t the only relation that Bolsonaro had tinkered with. While he was still a presidential candidate, Bolsonaro provoked what would arguably be Brazil’s most important trading partner, China, by visiting Taiwan, an island China considers as part of its territory (U.S. and Brazil Chose Similar Leaders) – which was a very risky and bold move on his part.

Another issue that also worries many is affirmative action, which helped those who usually suffer from discrimination in the workplace or higher education, since both Bolsonaro and Trump are against it. By being against affirmative action, they would be wanting to take away something that evened out the field for minorities and actually gave them opportunities. Without affirmative action, minorities can expect to have even more disadvantages, as if it wasn’t already difficult to be part of the minority.

It almost seems ridiculous that neither Bolsonaro nor Trump seem to think twice about saying such harmful statements about whole groups of people on television or the news so boldly. Bolsonaro and Trump’s racist tendencies seem go hand in hand with their wanting to reduce immigration and supposedly maintaining their country, which echoes in Bolsonaro’s and Trump’s overtly nationalistic messages of Let’s make Brazil great! Let’s be proud of our homeland once again! and Make America Great Again (Kirby).

Complications with LGBTQ Community

While both Bolsonaro and Trump have had much tension and opposition with the LGBTQ community, Bolsonaro has definitely shown more direct opposition towards homosexuality and the LGBTQ community in general throughout his political career, which is shown especially through his instances of direct hate-speech or ignorant comments. Bolsonaro’s hate-filled comments on the LGBTQ community date back as far as the early 2000’s, when in a 2002 interview he told the newspapers, If I see two men kissing on the street, I will beat them (Sandy). He also went on to condone child abuse by adding that parents should whip their gay children (Reed). As if these comments weren’t already horrific enough, Bolsonaro has also said that if his own sons were to be gay that he would prefer if they were to die in an accident, claiming that he simply wouldn’t be able to love them (Kirby). It was shocking to see how intolerable he was of homosexuality, which was shown through those violent comments and unforgivingness to his sons if they were to be gay.

Not only that, but Bolsonaro was also very dismissive of sexuality when actress Ellen Page asked him in 2017 if she should have been beaten as a child because she is gay (Reed). To that, all Bolsonaro replied that she is pretty and that he would’ve catcalled her. Although Bolsonaro has recently seemed to increasingly become more moderate in what he says about the LGBTQ community compared to the violent hate-speech he used to spew out in the early 2000’s, his view on the LGBTQ community is still problematic; it’s just not as outwardly spoken about as he used to. And it is definitely clear that he does not really understand the concept of different sexualities and how to respect them, as shown by Ellen Page’s interview of him when he just completely dismissed her sexuality by saying something he believed was a compliment but what really wasn’t.

Trump, on the other hand, hadn’t been quite as negatively vocal about the LGBTQ community as Bolsonaro has. He had even thanked the LGBTQ community and said that he would fight for them in June 2016 (Diamond, et al.). However, much of his actions were contrary to what he had said. Within a couple of hours after being sworn in, the White House website was deleted of all content on LGBTQ issues. To make that worse, Trump stated appointing an increasing amount of people who were known to be anti-LGBTQ, such as Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court Justice, Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, and many more (HRC). Ben Carson had been known to have stated that being gay is absolutely a choice. While Trump didn’t seem to be so anti-LGBTQ with his words, much of his actions say otherwise.

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Bolsonaro and Trump Far-Right Populist Demagogues. (2019, Mar 27). Retrieved March 20, 2023 , from

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