The world’s democracies need to defend and sustain their Enlightenment values. A global retreat from balancing power with legitimacy will cause the social contract to disintegrate both domestically and internationally. Yet this millennial issue of legitimacy and power cannot be settled simultaneously with the effort to overcome the Covid-19 plague. Restraint is necessary on all sides—in both domestic politics and international diplomacy. Priorities must be established.
Sixty-five-year-old Bolsonaro, who tested negative, for weeks has described the coronavirus as “a little flu.” He recently asked Congress to declare a state of emergency to free up more funding. Still, he has resisted calling for Brazilians to stay at home and for businesses to close because of his concerns about harming the economy. And he has berated Brazilian governors and mayors who have taken such steps, even as some members of his inner circle have fallen ill.