A Tale of Two Countries
The United States and New Zealand and The Coronavirus
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
– Charles Dickens
I’m not unbiased. I would never claim to be. I have made my views clear on every occasion. And with dual citizenship in The US and New Zealand, I believe that I have a right to make a comparison between these two countries. And in the middle of Covid-19, the differences between the two are stark. I think it is obvious that the main reason behind how these countries are emerging from the pandemic is the difference between the two leaders …
‘The age of wisdom, the age of foolishness… The spring of hope, the winter of despair.’
I sought information from as many different sources as possible:
News sources from the US, from NZ and internationally…
- From The Atlantic to BBC
- From Al Jazeera to Vanity Fair
- From The Guardian to The New Yorker
- From The New York Times to The New Zealand Herald . . .
And almost unanimously, from mainstream, established, internationally respected news sources, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has done a stellar job in handling this crisis; whereas the President of The United States, Donald Trump, has done a dismal job.
… Although for the sake of transparency, I did not go to Fox News where an alternate reality exists… As I said, I never claimed to be unbiased.
In terms of handling the outbreak, Jacinda has been direct and most importantly, empathetic. She did a great job at getting New Zealanders on board:
Leading New Zealand from isolation, Ms. Ardern coaxed her “team of five million” into accepting extreme restrictions. But the lessons of her success go beyond personality or charm…
Whereas Trump has shown little leadership, and when he has spoken up, many feel that he is more interested in himself than the people he supposedly leads:
Trump has made it clear he sees this pandemic chiefly as a threat to the market and wealthy people’s interests (and relatedly, his political future)
Jacinda has been described as empathetic and caring, yet strong.
New Zealand has had one or two new cases of Covid-19 in the past several days, all from people coming in from overseas, and all in isolation. Their containment of the virus has been described as observing ‘good science’ and being well-communicated.
And because of the better handling of this crisis, New Zealand is in a much better position economically at this point. “The Covid-19 pandemic is expected to leave a lasting scar on the world’s economies but New Zealand is likely to fare better than most.”
Whereas the US economy is far from healthy; as a matter of fact, CNBC stated that — Nearly half the U.S. population is without a job, showing how far the labor recovery has to go … The employment-population ratio — the number of employed people as a percentage of the U.S. adult population — plunged to 52.8% in May, meaning 47.2% of Americans are jobless.
Now I know, it isn’t fair to compare the US to NZ in many ways. New Zealand is a small country, only five million people; it’s located at the bottom of the world, a fair distance from any other countries; and it is easy to close the borders of an island nation. It is much easier to keep New Zealand safe from this virus than it is to keep a much bigger country that shares its borders.
However a comparison of these two countries does give a strong message. Good communication and empathic and caring, yet strong leadership helps a country through a crisis. A recent article in The New York Times argued that women led countries are doing much better in this crisis. ‘A new leadership style offers promise for a new era of global threats.’
Ultimately, I think it is fair to say that Jacinda Ardern is the Anti-Trump.
Vogue coined the phrase:
New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, Is Young, Forward-Looking, and Unabashedly Liberal — Call Her the Anti-Trump