25. The importance of government at a time of crisis

The coronavirus pandemic has, it seems to me, exacerbated some tendencies already shown by governments previously. What is particularly worrying, at least from my perspective, is watching what is going on in the US, where the president seems to be touting unproven medicines, inciting citizens to armed rebellion and civil disobedience, fighting his expert advisors and waging a budgetary war on beleaguered, underfunded US states to put them under pressure to restart economic activity. This observation has got me thinking that, whilst electorates can get away with practically any voting choice, however idiotic, in normal times, when a crisis comes, who you have in charge can quickly become life critical. The catch is, of course, that most crises come unannounced. Therefore, when going to the polls, it would be sensible to think: ‘If a global, life threatening crisis comes, who would I rather have in charge, a Churchill, von der Leyen, Merkel, Abe or a Qi Jinping, Trump, Kim Jong-un?’ 

Comments

Ben said…
Good post Santi.

The high-profile, populist rabble-rousers (Trump and Bolsonaro) are having a field day - undermining the integrity and cohesion of their nations and reputable statesmen/women whilst making cheap political capital.

I sincerely hope that backfires on them.

I've been wary of saying too much, too critical, too soon about the UK government. It appears to be perceived as unpatriotic these days. However, I can't help but feel that we went into this crisis with the bullishness that is a caricature of how the English (at their worst) see themselves - Johnny foreigner might have been cowering in his bunker but business as usual in enterprising and industrious Britain.

I contrast our situation with that in Germany. Evidently we could, and should have done a better job of it. I reckon we get the government we deserve and the Germans with their civic mindedness and quiet effectiveness have the leader they deserve. From your list I would have Merkel as leader any day.

I feel that the old discourse of left and right is becoming redundant. On a positive note we saw two pillars of Thatcherism disappear in a flash during the Covid crisis. 1. The notation that a budget should be run like household finances (They should have read up on Keynes decades ago but were untroubled by the views of experts no doubt). 2. Thereis such a thing as society after all.

I hope some good comes of this in the long run and that things don't get back to 'normal'. Normal was shit. And unsustainable.
SantiDominguezV said…
Thank you, Ben! That is a long comment, longer than the article, but I did not, when i outlined the Twitteretter rules, limit the length of comments, only that of the articles, so that is totally fair enough, and you make some good points.

Constructing the list at the end was not easy, it is difficult to know where to put some of these politicians, but I think a clear distinction has to be made between those who have no interest in the wellbeing of their population or in democracy, and those that do, however flawed, which they all are, as we, their electorate, are too.

It is very upsetting to see how some politicians are behaving not only right now, but in general, and it seems as if we are going to be getting more and more of this. Your 2 positive observations are spot on. Do we really need crises of these magnitude for society to proof its value? I fear people like Trump are not reading Rousseau enough?

Keep reading and keep commenting, really enjoyed this one!
Ana said…
Good point, santi. And I would say this works for the WHO too...
SantiDominguezV said…
For sure, Ana, although I think the WHO has its own problems with having to pay some heed to the countries that fund it, particulary when those countries expect to have an input in its workings in exchange... I think WHO are handling this reasonably well considering their difficulties, the fact that they rely on member countries for information and their lack of funding. US announced they are withdrawing $250Mn, which is half their budget approx, so that is pretty serious' although B&M Gates have already announced they will cover half.

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