A Brazilian Emperor, a Scottish Sea Captain, and Why I’m Voting for Donald Trump

The year was 1822, and Dom Pedro – the newly-minted emperor of the newly-minted nation of Brazil – had two major problems on his hands. His first headache involved the northern cities of Salvador, Belém, and my own beloved São Luís. While the south of Brazil was firmly in the camp of the Brazilian independence movement, these cities remained loyal to Portugal. To capture them, Dom Pedro would need to use his navy, which brings us to his second problem. He had virtually no navy. Worse, the few ships he did have were mainly crewed by Portuguese sailors – who would be less than enthusiastic about attacking Portuguese ships.

Having three significant cities on his northern border to serve as bases for Portuguese naval and land attacks was strategically unacceptable to the fledgling Brazilian empire. But to defeat them, Dom Pedro would have to conjure up a navy out of thin air. So to that end he turned to a Scottish sea captain, one Thomas Cochrane.

Now, Dom Pedro can not have been entirely happy about that option. He would have known, for example, that, though he was a celebrated naval commander, Cochrane had left England in disgrace over alleged financial improprieties. He would also know that his recent spectacular successes in the service of Chilean independence from Spain had been overshadowed by unethical behavior, interpersonal conflict, and quarrels about compensation.

Yet, Dom Pedro needed to send the Portuguese packing back to Europe, and there was only one man who could deliver that result. So, setting aside whatever misgivings he may have had, he invited Cochrane to build him a navy.

And Cochrane did just that. In a combination of brilliant naval battles and audacious bluffs, the Scottish sea lord delivered Salvador, Belém, and São Luís to Brazil, and sent a battered Portuguese fleet scampering home to Lisbon.

Donald Trump as a Didactic Tool

If you know me at all, you know that when I use the word “tool” in reference to Donald Trump, it is with all of its possible meanings in mind. I don’t like the guy.

In the last election cycle both he and Hilary Clinton repelled me, and I could not bring myself to vote for either one of them. I was (and still am) disgusted that conservatives jettisoned several more eminently qualified candidates in favor of the reality show star, and saw grave consequences in the future for that choice. More on those later.

Since Trump’s victory, my opinion of him has remained basically the same. I have been glad to see him tack more conservative than I had hoped, but in the main he’s still the same guy I knew and loathed back in those halcyon days of 2016.

So what has changed? Basically, the American left has gone flying mammal excrement insane. Our cities are burning, our institutions are under attack, civil rights are being set back half a century, and we can’t even watch an NFL game without Marxist ideology being shoved down our throat. The “participation trophy” generation is throwing a collective hissy fit, the kind that they used to throw in the supermarket to make their helicopter parents buy them that candy. Except now they are using Molotov cocktails and blocking ambulances carrying wounded police officers.

Their parents failed to teach them that this kind of behavior is counter-productive, so somebody needs to do it now, or they will have learned that all they need to do to get what they want is to sow chaos. And once that lesson is learned, it is the end of what we call civilization.

What is needed is some sort of teaching moment to make a generation understand that this is unacceptable behavior, and the the most effective didactic tool I can think of is to show them that their massive tantrum has given them four more years of the thing they hate the most: Donald Trump in the White House.

And there is no denying it: Donald Trump is uniquely qualified to deal with the present situation. The left needs to be trolled out of hiding, and Trump is the troll-in-chief. Movements like BLM and Antifa need to be exposed for what they are, and I’m pretty sure that is what Trump is up to right now. He has demonstrated a gift for inducing the overwhelmingly liberal media – the bane of conservative candidates since I can remember – to hang themselves by their own collective petards. And I, a battle-scarred NeverTrumper – confess to feelings of great satisfaction every time that happens.

Perhaps more importantly, Trump has the ability to speak the language necessary to generate support in the areas he needs to win. He talks like the vast working-class of America talks, a lesson I learned during a brief stint working for a natural gas company in Upstate New York.

In short, like Cochrane back in 1822, a deeply flawed individual has a particular skill set which has become essential to our national survival.

About those consequences…

It is instructive to note the aftermath of Admiral Cochrane’s Brazilian adventures. True to form, he bickered with his new employers over pay, sacked the public coffers of the city of São Luís, and made such a nuisance of himself that Brazil was glad to be rid of him. Unlike the Chileans, Brazil never named any ships after him. His role in Brazil’s fight for independence is largely ignored, and one 20th century Brazilian president – who, not surprisingly, hailed from São Luís – made a point of stepping on his gravestone as a sign of disrespect while on a state visit to England.

But the fact remains: without Thomas Cochrane, there would have been no Brazilian independence from Portugal.

I have no doubt that there will be negative consequences to a second Trump term, as there have been, I believe, to the first. Evangelicals in particular may be dealing with “Trump fallout” for years to come. But in an existential struggle, one does not have the luxury of choosing the best. One must make the best of the available.

So while you’ll never see me wearing a MAGA hat or driving a pickup festooned with Trump banners (that would garner some odd looks here in Brazil), I will be doing the important thing, which is casting my vote for Donald Trump in November.

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