German Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken out against what she called “fact-denying populism” amidst the chaos wrought by the Coronavirus pandemic. She did not name any particular leaders, but the implication of her comments was clear. She was condemning the system of so-called governance that has been implemented by right-wing leaders in Europe and over in the U.S. by Donald Trump. The tolls of the Coronavirus pandemic can’t be simply wished out of existence — no number of angry, complaining tweets will do the trick.
Merkel commented to E.U. leaders, referencing new German leadership of the Council of the European Union:
‘[The European Union] must show that a return to nationalism means not more, but less control… We are seeing at the moment that the pandemic can’t be fought with lies and disinformation, and neither can it be with hatred and agitation. Fact-denying populism is being shown its limits. In a democracy, facts and transparency are needed. That distinguishes Europe, and Germany will stand up for it during its presidency.’
Trump, of course, hasn’t just relied on “fact-denying populism” with his lie-riddled response to the pandemic. He has also repeatedly relied on nationalist nonsense. He rose to power with slogans like “America First,” and now, the United States is suffering under the weight of his reality-disconnected response to the pandemic. Over 130,000 Americans have died, and numbers are rising. The European Union has faced its own specter of this sort of nationalism recently — the United Kingdom recently went through a years-long process of exiting the European Union.
Merkel advocated for economic solidarity amidst those who are still in the union. She commented, speaking to members of the European Union’s governing body:
‘The depth of the economic decline demands that we hurry. We must waste no time — only the weakest would suffer from that. I very much hope that we can reach an agreement this summer. That will require a lot of readiness to compromise from all sides — and from you too.’
Over in the U.S., there was an initial rush to economically support society in the areas in which it was struggling amidst the pandemic, but that drive to help those who are struggling has since tapered off among members of the government, particularly Republicans. The Democrat-led House passed the HEROES Act awhile back, which includes more financial support for hard-hit interests all the way down to the local level, but the Republican-led Senate has refused to even consider the legislation, let alone pass it. It’s among the literal hundreds of bills that the Democrat-led House has passed which the Republican-led Senate has ignored.
Merkel has occasionally directly rebuffed Trump. Seemingly desperate for a show of strength, or something, Trump wanted to hold the G7 summit in person in D.C., but Merkel indicated she could not “confirm” she would attend.
Her office commented:
‘The Chancellor thanks President Trump for his invitation to the G7 summit in Washington at the end of June. As of today, given the overall pandemic situation, she cannot confirm her personal participation, that is, a trip to Washington.’
Trump has been largely left out of world affairs.