The coronavirus lockdown, quarantine, social distancing, sheltering in place – or whatever other moniker is attributed to it – is an interesting study of human behavior that to a great extent neatly transfers to politics.
Roughly half of the country is blasting elected officials for over-the-top hysterics and histrionic overreactions to the magnitude and intensity of the contagion, citing the dangers of quarantining to stifling the herd immunity that is imperative to our survival as a species, as well as the devastating economic impact they swear will kill far more people – from starvation and depression – than the virus ever could. They are the ones who tend to be suspicious and highly critical of government overreach, and that is predominantly why they tend to vote Republican, which also explains their allegiance to nontraditional Republicans, such as President Trump.
The other half of America is comprised of the ones who scold the first group for being ignorant, callous, careless, and, purportedly like the president, having “blood on their hands.” They tend to trust doctors, and particularly organizations with important-sounding acronyms, such as WHO (World Health Organization) and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). They see Trump as nothing more than a narcissistic clown who has no sympathy for the public he serves, and they see Trump’s followers falling into one of two categories with no other options: 1) wicked, evil, and cruel racist, misogynistic xenophobes; or 2) frightened gullible simpletons who’ve been hoodwinked by the snake oil salesman-in-chief. And they overwhelmingly vote Democrat.
This is a classic small government vs. big government ideological battle, drawn along the lines of, say, Thomas Jefferson and Lyndon Johnson. We should be able to agree to disagree, and respect our fellow human beings’ way of thinking when it differs from our own: no one wants either the virus or economic implosion to continue to spread, but each of us has a different belief as to which is ultimately worse for our well-being.
Therefore, I would not define either point of view – the stay-at-home versus the protest-at-the-state capitol approach – as sickening; it’s just a matter of perspective.
In stark contrast, what is undeniably sickening is the politicization of the virus, and particularly the concerted efforts to discredit President Trump and derail his reelection campaign.
All the venom hurled at the president even over the past month is too voluminous to enumerate here. What is important, though, is to note that no one in Washington – and hardly anyone anywhere in the world – saw this coming. Before the Democratic Party implosion over the winter, which saw the campaign of then-frontrunner Bernie Sanders collapse and about half a dozen other hopefuls drop like flies and declare their allegiance to Joe Biden, there were a whole bunch of debates going on. Time and again, moderators would ask the candidates to identify the biggest existential threat facing America and the world, and all of them either said it was Trump himself, or climate change. The coronavirus had already started claiming lives, yet it was not on any of their radars, I don’t blame them, just as I don’t blame the president. Things happen: Pearl Harbor, 9/11, Benghazi – we are not mind readers; we’re not always going to be perfect. However, let’s not be hypocrites, either. Let’s not pretend that having the foresight to predict an impending pandemic was something that everyone knew and forewarned President Trump and he simply ignored it.
The latest disgusting display of journalistic malpractice is the media’s attempt to convey, either by action or inaction, the false message that Trump advised people to inject themselves with disinfectant and/or to drink bleach in order to kill the virus. Here are his actual words: “Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light, and I think you said that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it. And then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you’re going to test that too. Sounds interesting, right? And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning, because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it’d be interesting to check that. So that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me…”
Clearly, he was thinking outside the box, as he so often does – as is the way so many highly successful and ambitious individuals do. He throws a thousand different possibilities at a problem, and some may sound ridiculous at first but make sense later, and some may continue to sound ridiculous even later – but that shouldn’t matter. And he emphasized that these were merely ideas that should be vetted by medical doctors.
If presidents need to be more careful with their words, lest anyone listening actually guzzles a bottle of Clorox, well then shame on the general public for being so idiotic.
Lastly, when life does get back to normal and the media scrambles to remain relevant, and we all begin unpacking what happened and how we reacted to it, there’s a good chance that in hindsight, we may think that shutting down targeted areas and building herd immunity elsewhere would have been the better way to go. And if the country truly supported its president, perhaps he would have gone with his initial instinct to have done just that. I don’t think if Reagan were alive and president that our whole nation would have shut down completely even for a minute, let alone over a month. The buck stops with the president, no doubt, and perhaps Trump is not quite Ronald Reagan just yet. Then again, neither Reagan nor any other president in our lifetime had so much antagonism and animosity to combat on a daily basis. That’s why President Trump deserves all the justification he gets from tens of millions of loyal supporters.