Why is the Left succeeding in Latin America, but failing so badly in the U.S.?
As of this morning, a leftist candidate in Honduras (of all places) has a real chance to win the coming election. That candidate is Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, the wife of the former president that was ousted in the U.S.-backed 2009 coup.
She finished second as the vice-presidential candidate for TV personality Salvador Nasralla in 2017, a ticket that lost by 50,000 votes in a disputed vote that reelected President Juan Orlando Hernández. This year, she’s running again and has emerged as the opposition’s best shot at ending the ruling National Party’s 12-year hold on the presidency.
Castro’s campaign got a huge lift when Nasralla ended his own campaign on October 13 to back Castro. The smaller Innovation and Social Unity Party also joined the informal alliance endorsing Castro’s bid....
Polls gave Castro a shot even before the backing of Nasralla, who had been running in third. In a September CID-Gallup poll, Castro registered 18% support, not far behind the National Party’s Nasry Asfura at 21%. A few public polls showed Castro leading. In the single-round election, a mere plurality is enough for victory.
Castro is only a moderate leftist, but that is a huge contrast to the current right-wing, neoliberal, narco-state government.
Chile is also having an election around the same time. Leftist Gabriel Boric is leading in the polls, but since the election is certain to go to the second round, anything could happen.
Once again, this is in huge contrast to the right-wing neoliberal president who is now facing impeachment for corruption.
Brazil's election isn't until next year, but the polls show leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva absolutely crushing the current right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro.
Even Colombia appears ready to take a hard left turn in next year's election.
Combine that with moderate socialist governments already in Bolivia, Peru, and Venezuela. Plus moderate leftist governments in Mexico and Argentina, and you are looking at nearly an entire hemisphere, south of the Rio Grande, embracing a moderate leftist agenda.
Meanwhile, in the United States Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi considered "progressive". While Bernie Sanders is considered a "radical leftist".
So what's going on?
I happened to run across this article which at least partially explained the disparity in outcomes. It involves the churches.
In 2018, political scientist Javier Corrales termed the alliances between Evangelical churches and conservative parties in Latin America “a perfect marriage." Now, divorce might be looming with a new, more intriguing suitor in the game: the Left.
In the last few years, left-wing politicians in several countries have sought out alliances with Evangelical churches, leaders, and political parties. In Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and his party MORENA entered into a coalition with the Evangelical Partido Encuentro Social (Social Encounter party, PES), in preparation for the 2018 elections. In Venezuela, Maduro took to courting Evangelical leaders in the run-up to the 2020 elections. He granted concessions including commemorating the “Day of the Pastor,” establishing an Evangelical university, and donating thousands of musical instruments to Evangelical churches. Most recently, on September 15, Colombian presidential candidate and former guerrillero Gustavo Petro received the support of Alfredo Saade, an Evangelical leader from the Caribbean coast. Saade’s movement, Levántate, brings together over 400 Evangelical pastors from across the country.
The 2018 presidential election in Colombia highlighted this last dynamic. The Centro Democrático’s (Democratic Center) candidate, Iván Duque, defeated Petro with a margin of 2.3 million votes, winning a total of 10.3 million votes. The Colombian Evangelical parties MIRA and Colombia Justa Libres were key to his victory. These parties are estimated to have delivered approximately 1 million of the total votes for Duque.
Perhaps Petro was taking notes, because he was quick to seek Evangelical support for his 2022 presidential bid. At the launch of his campaign in the Caribbean city of Barranquilla, he referenced Jesus and several saints, and accused the Right of “dealing with the devil.” Shortly afterward, it came to light that the Evangelical leader Saade had helped organize the event, and he endorsed Petro’s candidacy publicly.
The right-wing has captured the churches, evangelicals in particular, for so long that people have forgotten that before the 1970's churches in America were just as likely to be associated with left-wing politics.
There is a lesson to be learned here. If you want a real leftist political movement in the United States, it doesn't start with the DNC. It starts with the labor unions, neighborhood associations, and the churches.