Politics watchers tend to look at Europe for analogies to our history, but our hemispheric neighbors share more of our foundational pathologies
American politics-watchers tend to look across the Atlantic, to Europe, for analogies to our own history. But the better analogy has never been to the US’s east, but to our south, in the Latin American democracies. It is those countries – our hemispheric neighbors – that share more of the US’s foundational pathologies.
Like us, they were founded on early violence that casts long shadows over our subsequent attempts at equality and pluralism: chattel slavery and the dispossession and genocide of indigenous peoples. Like us, they are host to racially and religiously heterogenous populations, aspiring to national projects based not so much in shared ethnic identity as in shared ideals. And like us, these Latin American nations have an authoritarian streak, one that has historically been encouraged, both tacitly and explicitly, by the US itself.