Coronavirus was a hard blow to Brazilian society. Our country was in the middle of several reforms, each attempting to help the country recover from decades of left-wing rule which had brought us a hyperinflated state, 10 million unemployed citizens and 70,000 murders every year.
If the situation was difficult before the health crisis, as the president’s government had to fight against parliament and the supreme court at every turn, now it is even worse due to Bolsonaro’s inability to communicate his ideas to the population. The lack of care when talking about sensitive issues is causing many Brazilians to doubt his ability to govern. This is a real threat to conservatism, considering Bolsonaro represents the first true conservative Brazilian government since the 1930s.
Most countries across the world have adopted social isolation to counter the spread of coronavirus, despite the tragic economic consequences of such actions. It is reasonable to question the adoption of lockdown policies, and conservatives, especially, should be wary of the authoritarian habits some governments are developing, as some may be using the health crisis as a justification to suppress civil rights.
In Brazil, however, Bolsonaro simply made a statement on television and social media calling coronavirus “a simple flu” and saying people like him with “an athletic background” should not worry about the disease. Now, you can imagine how people who have had family die from coronavirus felt when they listened to that. Why choose this style to approach such a sensitive matter? There are thousands of ways to speak about the consequences of social isolation, and it is necessary to debate this subject. However, conservatives should choose the right strategy to convince the greatest number of people, precisely because of the damage getting it wrong will cause.
Another important discussion is the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus cases. I am not a doctor, and I cannot defend or deny its utility. However, as a concerned citizen, I expect the government to embrace its use if it can save lives. That is what most conservatives think in Brazil, since we want the social isolation to end as soon as possible. Again, in this subject Bolsonaro wanted to jump to conclusions. As a result, in one month we had a second Health Minister resigning because of the president’s insistence on adopting hydroxychloroquine as the official and final “cure” for coronavirus.
It seems to me Bolsonaro might be right to defend the use of the drug, but why not explain that it will be used to save lives while further research is done? Why choose to simply say the problem is solved because of hydroxychloroquine? If the message were communicated in a more strategic manner, I am sure most people would agree with Bolsonaro’s point.
Those are just two examples of how Bolsonaro’s reasonable ideas are destroyed by his poor way of expressing them. The result is a continuous loss of support from greater and greater parts of the population, which could ultimately lead to the Left returning to power. Leftist Brazilians are incredibly good at communicating their terrible ideas, making them sound attractive, which kept them in government for 30 years. Conservatives must avoid Bolsonaro’s rash style and remember they are part of a vast society with many different people. If we do not learn to communicate our ideas, we will end up being a disillusioned majority, capable of complaining but not of influencing our nation’s future.