It’s been clear for decades (outside of the Fox bubble) how little the Republicans really care about their own constituents, but never before has their distain been so blatant. What is most outrageous about the present crisis is their cold & callous disregard for the lives of those most at risk from the Covid-19 pandemic as they try to justify “opening up the country” and “returning to normal” in order to boost the stock market to where it was a few weeks ago, before Trump revealed yet again his total incompetence at everything other than acting like a successful businessman on reality TV.
A few weeks ago, I recognized that physical distancing would likely prove to be successful at flattening the curve of the sick and dying but that this success would prove to be anticlimactic in the view of some of our fellow citizens. I worried that preventing thousands from dying from Covid-19 by mass quarantine would sooner rather than later lead some to claim that the demands to stay at home were draconian and that we need to get back to ‘normal’ (whatever that’s going to be for the next year or two) so that businesses stop losing money. This has of course proven to be true with many conservatives on Fox ‘News’ and OANN (Trump’s new favorite state television network), Republicans in the administration, and the assorted wingnuts that Trump prefers to use as ‘advisers’ in place of the experts throughout his own administration he has no time for.
Every day, we have these outrageous campaign events Trump inaccurately labels as ‘coronavirus task force press briefings’, during which he makes unfounded pronouncements, recommends anecdotal, unproven and possibly harmful medical treatments that his own agencies don’t support and outright conspiracy theories that Drs. Fauci and Birx and even Mike Pence have to counter with actual facts. These ‘briefings’ are grievance-laden diatribes from Trump, whose malignant narcissism is on full display as he whines about how badly he’s been treated by the media while saying NOTHING about all our fellow Americans who are sick or have died under his watch. He spends hours at these ‘briefings’, something no previous president has ever done, because he does next to nothing on behalf of the American people. A full 60% of Trump’s time is unscheduled and he uses that time to watch right-wing media, send tweets and call his various non-expert friends to get their non-expert advice on all the things that matter to the rest of us. Trump is known to be easily influenced; going with whatever the last person he’s spoken with said regardless of their lack of expertise.
Trump’s most recent ‘briefings’ have been full-out temper tantrums, one of them including a taxpayer-funded campaign video to convince us that this unmitigated disaster has been handled perfectly by Trump and his lackeys despite what we can see with our eyes and hear with our ears. Trump’s inability to learn anything new is on full display as he attempts to refute how a contagion works by repeatedly telling the country that “we can’t let the cure be worse than the problem”, or “we have to open our country back up as soon as possible”, or even worse, “we don’t need no stinkin’ tests” (I’m paraphrasing on that last one!). Trump’s inability to fathom that the states that presently haven’t had as many confirmed cases of Covid-19 (although the inability to do massive testing of all the population on a regular basis makes it impossible to know how many Americans have contracted the virus) are at the bottom of the curve, not avoiding it altogether.
The more sparsely populated regions of the country took longer to start spreading the virus around because their citizens don’t run into as many of their neighbors as we on the coasts do on a regular basis. The lack of a federal stay-at-home order allowed the governors of Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota (why are there TWO Dakotas???), Iowa, Arkansas, Utah, & Wyoming to refuse to issue such orders while others waited weeks before doing so, often while still permitting large groups of people to meet for religious services.
The federal government is supposed to be there when the shit hits the fan – hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires, pandemics – are all things that the federal government is supposed to help us with and are what we expect in return for the regressive federal taxes we pay. The Republicans’ efforts at tearing down the functional portions of our government to lower the taxes of the wealthiest in the country supporting their political campaigns had already done significant damage to the infrastructure supporting the agencies we most need to be able to function before Trump took office unprepared and clueless.
Trump’s lack of preparation for the job he now holds has continued to reverberate throughout the entire federal government since he took office, appointing rank partisans completely lacking in relevant experience throughout the federal government into only a small portion of the positions needed to staff our agencies to full capacity. Instead, he’s placed people with ill-intent towards the agencies they now inhabit into positions that have allowed them to destroy those very agencies. He has eliminated crucial positions because he has no capacity to understand that being prepared for an emergency includes keeping people whose expertise will be necessary in an emergency in positions that matter.
The Republicans in the House and the Senate, as well as all those working in his administration, remain silent while tens of thousands of our fellow Americans die because of Trump’s incompetence. After the citizens of the states that voted for Trump in 2016 have lost friends and family members to Covid-19 because of everything Trump did and didn’t do over the last several months, I hope they’ll begin to harass their Republican representatives and senators to do something for them instead of for big corporations. Better still, I hope they see the light and recognize that their faith in the Republicans has been misplaced; we on the left will welcome them into the fold! I want my Republican friends and family members (and you know who you are!) to see that their continued support of the Republican Party has brought us to brink of an economic and healthcare catastrophe and to agree that the only way to move forward as a country is to realign behind the Democratic Party.
There is no other option.