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Congressman Romario and the Meaninglessness of Brazilian Politics

October 12, 2010

Romario in Congress: it's a big room, eh buddy?!

While you were sleeping, Romario de Souza Faria was elected into the National Congress of Brazil.

Yes, him, Romario, 1994 World Cup winner and former FIFA World Player of the Year.

A footballer.

In Congress.

It happened last Sunday, October 3rd.

You were deep asleep.

Romario is now one of the 46 representatives of the State of Rio de Janeiro in the nation’s Lower House of Congress in Brasilia. He came 6th on the list, with almost 150 thousand votes. Yes, Romario, the player, beat 40 other candidates – actual politicians.

But what is an “actual politician” in Brazil, really?

Well, honestly, I have no idea. And neither do most Brazilians. You see, just like football for most Brazilians, politics is a vehicle for fun. For pure entertainment. It’s not meant to be taken seriously.

Oh, I mean, winning is important. Brazilians love winners. Brazilians must win, even if we have to cheat in the end…just a wee bit of cheating – for the common good, you know.

So it’s all a game, really. Whether it’s played on a football pitch, or in the palaces of Brasilia, it’s all a game – and anything goes. The rules are meant to be bent, goals are meant to be scored with flair, and even if we lose in the end, as long as we had a good laugh here and there, it’s all good.

That’s politics for you in Brazil. It’s all one big joke. And since Romario is “only one” suit in a sea of 594 members of Congress, who cares, really? I mean, most Brazilians have NO idea who the vice-President is.

I’m not joking.

Ask a Brazilian.

That’s the political mentality of Brazil. There’s the President, and then there are the losers. And remember, we love winners. Brazilians love winners. It’s all we care about, really. Winning. Second-place is not good enough for us. Remember 1998?

And what is the post of Vice-President if not a “second place” position?

An “Honorable Mention Award”.

A “Certificate of Participation”.

It’s all loser talk, really.

So, there’s Romario. In Congress. One of many. One of many freaks, as it turns out.

Evangelical fanatics went from 43 seats to 63 this year.

Yep, almost 1/6 of the National Congress is made up of pastors and anti-abortion, anti-same sex marriage, anti-this, anti-that…anti-bla, anti-blech…

And then there’s Tiritica, a has-been clown/comedian from the 90s – Oh, you’re going to have to sit down for this:

Almost 1.5 million Brazilians voted for Tiririca last week. He became the second most popular candidate for Congress in the history of the State of Sao Paulo.

Like I said, one big joke.

And, of course, this being Brazil, Romario was not the only footballer seeking political glory. Bebeto, his 1994 World Cup partner, was also a candidate; as well as Danrlei, Gremio’s former star goalkeeper.

Both Romario and Danrlei entered the Lower House of Congress. While Bebeto was elected into the State Senate of Rio de Janeiro.

I confess, I broke a chuckle after re-reading what I just wrote above…

Funny.

Well, not really. That’s the truth.

Here we have Brazil. A so-called rising Superpower. A country in charge of hosting major international events, such as the World Cup and the Olympics, in the next few years. A nation that, under President Lula, has finally gained the world’s attention, and has become an important player in global economics. Finally, Brazil seems to be taken seriously. At least internationally…

At home, Brazilians are still laughing.

You see, Brazilians are not dumb. They know they are voting for a clown. They know they are voting for Romario, a footballer who hated practice, regularly got involved in fights, and thought of himself as untouchable…

They know that.

And here’s the catch: that’s the way they protest. They elect freaks.

I confess, it doesn’t seem very productive, as these people we elect end up retarding the growth and development of the nation…but…it is kind of funny, I guess. It’s like “take that Brazil! You want me to vote, I will vote for the craziest guy out there! It’s on, pal”.

Maybe Brazilians are right, it is funny. Politics.

I mean, voting is not a “right”, or a “privilege” in Brazil. They are ‘forced’ to vote. It’s mandatory. By law.

And Elections take place on Sundays. Always. Which means 190 million Brazilians have to get up early, on their only day off, in order to line up to vote – that is kind of funny…

But not really; out of spite and anger, a nation of 190 million people who culturally –  and historically – have never been fond of politics, are forced to choose the “best” in a sea of freaks.

Why wouldn’t they vote for Romario?

At least he won a World Cup.

Maybe he’ll do well in Brasilia. At least on Tuesdays, we can be sure he will do a good job!

That’s when football teams formed by members of the Lower House meet for weekly matches.

See, I told you it was all kind of funny.

Maybe kind of are the operative words, though.

Brazilians vote because they have to vote. And that makes most angry, yes. Nevertheless, the lack of “good” options amongst candidates also frustrates them. Perhaps that’s consequence of, as mentioned, their people not being politically inclined. No one is interested in following politics, or becoming a “professional”, proper, politician for life. And so Brazilians are left with Tiriricas and Romarios…with clowns and footballers.

And since “proper” politicians in suits tend to represent the very rich elite – the minority – in South American countries, people will vote for those candidates who best reflect their national identity. Their place in society.

Romario has been married 3 times. He has 6 children. He likes drinking, he likes playing football – he likes having a laugh. He scored beautiful goals and brought joy to his people. He spent most of his career in Brazil, saying life in Europe was “not for him”. He is Brazilian. Classically Brazilian. He’s like you, and me. He’s regular folk. He was poor, he grew up in the favelas, and then he ‘made it’.

If he made it, then so can I. He “understands” the reality of real Brazilians.

Why wouldn’t I vote for him?

Maybe he will do a good job. Like in that game against Sweden, in 1994. His famous nickname, “shorty”, didn’t stop him from scoring a header in-between two tall Swedes, placing Brazil in the Final against Italy.

Maybe he will produce the same kind of magic in Brasilia.

That’s it, I will vote for the dude.

And if he doesn’t do a good job, who cares. He’s just one in a sea of 594 Congressmen. How much damage can he cause, really?! They are not the President. They are losers. It’s not like they make decisions and approve laws or anything, right?

Right?!

Besides, it’s Sunday morning; I just want to go back to bed.

RB.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Peteca permalink
    October 13, 2010 4:48 pm

    Love it. Small paragraphs. Entertaining, small paragraphs. Proud. #pride

    • Rod Beilfuss permalink*
      October 13, 2010 4:52 pm

      You are ridiculous Peteca. Ridiculous. #team

  2. andy permalink
    January 5, 2011 12:38 am

    Rod Beilfuss,

    you really sound as if you hate anything Brazilian. Romario played 7 years in Europe and he felt that was enough after becoming 3 times dutch champion and one time Spanish champion, along with 3 times Dutch top scorer and one time pichichi Spanish top scorer. He was elected twice European of the year and once FIFA world player of the year. After becoming a world champion in 1994 I think he did deserve to go back to his native land to retire with his family. And what on earth has got his football background to do with not being capable of doing politics. I mean look at the US/ UK and remaining EU politicians how most went to Harvard and Oxford, they don’t know what is the right thing to do either in politics. Lula was a shoe cleaner on the street before he rose in socio-economical class till becoming president. Mandela was a killer (righteously though) before he became a hero and president and so many others in politics history. I mean what do you know about politics. Have you got a degree in politics? Or have you suffered from socio-economical unjust in whatever nation you come from? Can you do better then Romario? You are a nobody!

    What have you done for the world lately? O wait, Hm,..writing the most pessimistic article on the internet about people you never met and a Brazilian culture you seem only to despise

    Reader don’t let yourself be influence by these sort of messages. It is this people how we must beware of. Dangerous!

    • January 5, 2011 12:54 am

      HAHAHA. That has to be the funniest comment on my Blog yet. Darling, first of all, I AM BRAZILIAN. Born and raised. You’d know that if you read the “about” page on the Blog. And yes, I have suffered from social-economical hardships. Cool!? Settle down. And second: you are completely missing my point and my sarcasm here. I suggest you re-read the piece with a more leveled head and stop being so whiny. Romario, much like Pele – albeit worshiped on the pitch – are both seen as buffoons when it comes to “real life” in Brazil. Do I need to mention how many children, from random women, they refuse to recognize as their own? So yes, any potential contribution to serious political reform by someone like Romario or Pele is a far-fetched idea. I am Brazilian, I adore my homeland and I have the right to whine and complain about my own country’s political and historical realities. So shush. Se cuida mane, e muita calma viu, ta louco…
      Abracos.

      • Andy permalink
        January 18, 2011 10:25 pm

        Rod Belfuss,
        Perdoe me! I didn’t want to be rude either nor didn’t want to be biased by not understanding the sarcasm hidden between the lines of your article. Once more, I apologise. Its just that I thought you were one of those first world Europeans and north Americans snobs how thought they had the right to criticise what’s not theirs in this world again. I am not Brazilian but I do have a lot of sympathy for the struggling people of Latin America. I am Dutch with a father from Venezuela so I know what it means to be among the forsaken cariocas in Rio when they have to live in a sink plated little house just next to an affluent tall modern building in Flamengo. I see now what you mean. Maybe Romario just compensated his late financial short comings with tax sanctions by getting himself a high state salary as Diputado Federal. If that is the case then he certainly is very clever a person. Let me make it clear here, I don’t despise street wise politicians or wannabe politicians how manipulate the weak and fickle mob to get elected on false (maybe not) promises, just to enrich their own pensions. Why? Because they just followed the law of the nation and they have play their game within the law. How I don’t seem to understand nor appreciate is the people how voted for these wise men. I mean not only in Latin America but even in the US or Europe. The majority of the American people have elected GW Bush, yet a year or two after election everybody start whining about the government and calling Bush by names etc. In Haiti right now the same thing is happening. The forsaken people will highly probable vote for the next corrupted dictator, maybe an overwhelming majority, only to be disappointed two years down the road. This is simply a classic that tends to repeat everywhere. Lets hope Romario will deliver what he promised. And lets hope the new president Rousseff will do the same.
        For all else is just the same old story! Selfishness and hypocrisy. The true meaning of humanity.

  3. Andy permalink
    January 18, 2011 10:25 pm

    Rod Belfuss,

    Perdoe me! I didn’t want to be rude either nor didn’t want to be biased by not understanding the sarcasm hidden between the lines of your article. Once more, I apologise. Its just that I thought you were one of those first world Europeans and north Americans snobs how thought they had the right to criticise what’s not theirs in this world again. I am not Brazilian but I do have a lot of sympathy for the struggling people of Latin America. I am Dutch with a father from Venezuela so I know what it means to be among the forsaken cariocas in Rio when they have to live in a sink plated little house just next to an affluent tall modern building in Flamengo. I see now what you mean. Maybe Romario just compensated his late financial short comings with tax sanctions by getting himself a high state salary as Diputado Federal. If that is the case then he certainly is very clever a person. Let me make it clear here, I don’t despise street wise politicians or wannabe politicians how manipulate the weak and fickle mob to get elected on false (maybe not) promises, just to enrich their own pensions. Why? Because they just followed the law of the nation and they have play their game within the law. How I don’t seem to understand nor appreciate is the people how voted for these wise men. I mean not only in Latin America but even in the US or Europe. The majority of the American people have elected GW Bush, yet a year or two after election everybody start whining about the government and calling Bush by names etc. In Haiti right now the same thing is happening. The forsaken people will highly probable vote for the next corrupted dictator, maybe an overwhelming majority, only to be disappointed two years down the road. This is simply a classic that tends to repeat everywhere. Lets hope Romario will deliver what he promised. And lets hope the new president Rousseff will do the same.

    For all else is just the same old story! Selfishness and hypocrisy. The true meaning of humanity.

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