There was a meme I shared back on May 21st on social media. It had pictures of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Jair Bolsonaro and Boris Johnson. All four are considered far-right nationalist leaders and they represented the four countries with the worst outbreaks of Covid-19. The coronavirus has become a nightmare for the far-right, and it may soon start to haunt their dreams.
Over the past month, the only thing that has changed is the company the four keep. India and another far-right nationalist Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has joined the fray, passing Great Britain. The five of them together is a sight to behold and a progressive horror show.
It’s common knowledge that when disaster strikes, the citizenry has a tendency to give their leaders the benefit of the doubt. These leaders typically see a spike in the polls before they even tackle the problem. This pandemic was no different.
Leaders of all political stripes around the world saw a boost in the polls. Even Donald Trump enjoyed a very brief stay above the 50% threshold. With an election around the corner, half of the United States held their collective breath. I Know, they didn’t have a choice… There were no masks.
Since those high times in late March, Trump has demonstrated in every possible way how to bungle a response. I won’t get into the details as you’ve all witnessed it firsthand. Suffice to say his numbers have tanked, on average 12 points. Trump has made it clear that he doesn’t care and Americans, even Republicans, are coming to that realization.
Trump’s just hanging himself. Biden doesn’t even have to leave his basement. This is a clear-cut case of when you have a party in power that thinks the government is the problem. It becomes true. Despite 80% of Americans supporting the use of masks and social distancing, Trump doubles down in the opposite way. The November election is only four months away, if Trump doesn’t change his course, he’s dead meat. In truth, it might already be too late.
Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro is a bit of a Trump clone. In fact, some people call him the “Trump of the Tropics.” He loves dictators, he’s racist and loves private industry. He also happens to be in complete denial when it comes to Covid-19.
Bolsonaro blamed the media, fired his health minister, refused to issue virus guidelines, etc. Brazil has since become the virus epicenter in South America in quick fashion. With over a million cases and 50,000 deaths, Brazilians are calling for his impeachment. According to polls a couple weeks ago, Bolsonaro has the lowest approval rating of any first term president since democracy was restored in the mid-1980s.
In Russia, Putin is pursuing a series of constitutional amendments that would allow him to stay president until 2036. Trust in the Russian nationalist however sat at a 14 year low back in April. Before the worst of the coronavirus hit. Only 25% of Russians currently trust him as of June 1st and people are ready to hit the street.
As you can tell, Covid-19 has indeed become a a nightmare for far-right nationalists, one they won’t quickly wake up from. It’s still difficult to tell what kind of revolutionary change is going to come from this pandemic, if any. But it is looking more and more like some of these nationalist strong men seem vulnerable.
Then again, these are far-right nationalists, some of them may not leave at all. We all know Putin’s intentions. Bolsonaro could easily turn Brazil back into a military dictatorship. And then there is Trump. One man’s nightmare can always come back to haunt the rest of us.
At the end of the day, the question must be asked; is removing these men from power worth the toll the virus is taking on their countries?