When word broke of the President and First Lady testing positive for Covid19, an image flashed into my mind. The image was from the 1980s series St. Elsewhere, about a hospital and its staff in Boston. A major character, played by Mark Harmon, was a promiscuous doctor who regularly engaged in unprotected sex, regardless of the warnings. Ultimately, and to his great shock, the Harmon character tested positive for HIV/AIDS.
Why the surprise, one might ask?
The same question can and should be posed to not only the Trump family but to the Republican deniers who have ignored—flaunted—all the scientific warnings regarding the danger inherent in the Covid19 crisis.
I start here because there will be the tendency among some people to express sympathy and understanding to the Trump family for this tragedy. Such expressions of sympathy, while understandable, can lead one to misunderstand the nature of the current crisis and to also misunderstand the importance of voting Trump out on November 3rd.
Donald Trump ridiculed natural science. He encouraged his followers to discount all scientific recommendations regarding how to lessen the impact of the pandemic. Through public displays of contempt for mask-wearing and social distancing, Trump, in typical masculinist mode, attempted to display that his own strength and arrogance were sufficient to defeat the Covid19 plague.
It turned out that he was wrong.
As a result, the White House is currently in nothing short of panic, at least according to most media reports. They do not have a framework in order to understand what has been happening. After months of repeating and practicing the mantra that Dr. Fauci’s warnings were allegedly irrelevant, they now have the President, First Lady, and many other senior officials, plus several members of the Senate and House infected with the ‘bug.’ And the White House has no way of explaining it and, worse yet, no recommendations as to what to do since any reasonable recommendation would run contrary to the irrationalist rhetoric of King Donald.
As noted, in this moment there will be a tendency by some voters to feel genuine sympathy for the President and his family. Those same voters may wish to vote for him as an expression of support for him in this time of crisis. This would be a tragic mistake.
The sympathy which anyone should feel is towards the 209,000+ who have died from the Covid19 pandemic. 209,000+ people who might not have died had Trump not engaged in public denial of the nature and extent of the plague. 209,000+ people and their families who suffered, died, watched someone dying, or for those who survived, remembering their lost ones. Those and the millions of others who have been infected, often painfully suffering from the pandemic, should be the targets of our sympathy, not Donald Trump.
Though Trump did not create the Covid19 crisis, his actions accentuated the crisis. While he may seek to blame China, which is as stupid as if the world blamed the USA for the 1918-1919 flu pandemic (which is where it originated!), the real blame goes to Trump and his administration for its thoroughly incompetent and cavalier approach towards the pandemic. By actively encouraging millions of people to believe that Covid19 was nothing worse than a bad flu and that it was something that would go away on its own—in the absence of masks, social distancing, and, eventually a vaccine—Trump brought about more deaths in the last few months than the USA suffered in the entirety of the Vietnam War.
There is no amount of sympathy that I could ever muster to justify a vote for someone who refused to protect the people of this country and, ultimately and stupidly, refused to protect himself.
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the executive editor of globalafricanworker.com and a past president of TransAfrica Forum.