The US president understood the political impact of the death toll from the coronavirus and mobilized the American arsenal to face the toughest humanitarian and economic crisis of the 21st century. He wants re-election. In Brazil, Bolsonaro traced a suicidal path. He continues to deny the seriousness of the crisis, insists on the end of the quarantine and the resumption of economic activity. Every day, the number of politicians jumping off the government ship grows.
The US President, Donald Trump gave his Brazilian friend, President Jair Bolsonaro, a lesson in political realism. In the beginning of March, the speech of the American president was in line with Bolsonaro’s: both considered the Coronavirus just a “common cold”, with little if any consequences for their nations. But hard data and hard facts forced Trumpto change his mind.
Trump’s political realism
At the end of March, the American president had already upgraded his alert status to the coronavirus epidemic describing itas “cruel”. Trump mobilized American health and financial systems to facethe toughest humanitarian and economic crisis of the 21st century. On the economic front, the government proposed, and Congress approvedan emergency aid of 2 trillion dollars to help unemployed Americans and small businesses.
On the humanitarian front, Trump demonstrated that he had understood the seriousness of the epidemic. He withdrew from his unwise position and set Easter as the date for resumption of economic activity in the United States.
Using a somber tone and with a grave voice, Trump told the Americans to be prepared in the coming weeks to face a frightening increase in the number of deaths by the Coronavirus.
According to estimates, the coronavirus could kill 100,000 to 240,000 people in the country this year. This means that in 2020 more Americans may die than in three years of the Korean War (1950-1953), twenty years of the Vietnam War (1955-1975), nineteen years of war in Afghanistan (2001-2020) and eight years’ war in Iraq (2003-2011).
Trump quickly understood the political impact of lives being lost daily to the coronavirus. A president insensitive to the humanitarian depth of the crisis would have no chance of re-election. Hence the radical change in hispolitical speech and in his attitude.
The Titatic Bolsonaro
Bolsonaro did not learn Trump’s political lesson. He continues to insist on aspeech denying the coronavirus crisis. He rejects the data and facts. He insists on the end of the quarantine and the immediate back of business as usual. The path he is following is a clear political suicide. The number ofpeople jumping off Bolsonaro’s sinking Titanic increases day by day.
Twenty-four out of the twenty-seven governors declared themselves in opposition to the president’s guidelines for the fight against the virus. The president’s allied parties in Congress took a defying independent stance. Even ministers member of his owncabinet are publicly showing their divergences with the president. This is the case of the Minister of Health, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who besides the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, is one of the few knowledgeable and sensible voices in the government.
While Trump tries to make up for lost time spent in his denialphase of the Coronavirus crisis, Bolsonaro at the helm of his sinking Titanic continues to flirt with disaster on the ocean of political folly.