Populist Leaders Kill Their People – Beware!

By Shlomo Maital

    A Christian Science Monitor report, by Sarita Santoshini, Ana Ionova and Sara Miller Llana, confirms what I suspected:  Populist leaders, by ignoring the COVID-19 pandemic, kill their people.  Ironic, isn’t it… leaders who supposedly are ‘for the people’, which is what ‘populist’ is supposed to mean, actually kill people.   What if what the people want – no lockdown, no masks, no restrictions – is bad for them?  Do courageous leaders do what is best?  Or what gets them votes?

     Here is the evidence:  “The five countries at the top of the global COVID-19 mortality tables – the United States, Brazil, India, Mexico, and Britain – have something in common: All had populist leaders when the pandemic began.   Like Donald Trump, heads of the other four governments also played down the importance of the pandemic or moved slowly to deal with it. They shared some habits, too – oversimplifying the pandemic, dramatizing their own responses, asserting their own solutions, and forging divisions along the way.”

      Fareed Zakharia confirmed this, on his CNN program today as well. 

      The three Christian Science Monitor reporters continue: “Populist leaders swept to power in recent years on a wave of promises. But confronted by a public health emergency like COVID-19, they have performed significantly worse than traditional politicians.   The results were catastrophic, and that has had political repercussions, even though they tried to shift the blame onto others. Mr. Trump is widely thought to have lost the U.S. presidential election because of his mishandling of COVID-19; anger at Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on the rise; in Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro’s popularity is plummeting.”

        Here are the sad statistics:  (the numbers for India are likely an underestimate):

                                                        Total deaths             Deaths per million population

                                               U.S.     590,000                        1,776

                                                India   216,003                        155

                                                Brazil  406,565                        1,901

                                                 Mexico    217,168                    1,670

                                                  UK           127,524                   1,870

        Next time you are tempted to vote for a populist leader —  remember these numbers, remember how they fared during the pandemic.  These five countries have paid a heavy price for their wacky leaders.