President Trump’s abysmal failure on the coronavirus front – despite pathetic lies by GOP bootlickers – caused infections and deaths that might have been avoided with decisive leadership, with a president who cared more about people than Wall Street.
Yes, I know, his incompetence also contributed mightily to Main Street economic grief, which was then ignored by the GOP-controlled Senate, which prefers offering financial “relief” to millionaires and billionaires. (Feel trickled down on yet?)
A more lasting casualty will likely be our national fiber, which Trump spent five years ripping apart as if under instructions from a sworn enemy.
Trump’s selfishness, advocating a pandemic kill-off of Americans in the name of greed, reflects the worst side of American individualism:
“Me, my, mine – and, if I don’t get what I want, I’ll whine.”
It could have been different. It would have been different with a real leader at the helm.
A real leader would have implemented a national policy to protect everyone – those not guaranteed Walter Reed Hospital care (and not, for instance, have incited a murderous, aborted armed coup that Rep. Tom Cole is OK with – his votes trumping his hollow rhetoric).
A national mask mandate, social distancing requirements, sheltering in place or other forms of semi-isolation – with a president demonstrating that he gives a damn that we survive – could have created a united front, a “We’re all in this together attitude.”
Those of us who trust science and our doctors have been taking precautions as a matter of course. It was Trump who made non-masking and mass congregating a sign of political loyalty – even after that policy cost his own supporters’ lives. And Trumpista cultists brought this deliberate ignorance to state and local governments as well.
We entered 2021 with 340,000 COVID-19 deaths – still right at 19 percent of deaths worldwide for a country with less than five percent of the population. And, of course, scarcely an acknowledgement from Trump, whose lack of leadership likely cost him the election.
And, if anything, we’re more divided than ever. (A coup attempt – that doesn’t bother Rep. Tom Cole — will do that.)
Icelandic Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir ended 2020 with the Twitter message: ” I am proud to be part of a society that has shown compassion, endurance and courage during a trying year.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ended the year answering Facebook questions from constituents, joking about the public’s obsession over the upholstery on her chairs. She, too, had taken decisive anti-pandemic action, and noted, “To everyone who helped us get through this year, thank you. While there are plenty of challenges ahead, I feel more confident than ever that we’re all up for it…and for showing the very best of New Zealand as we all pull together.”
Our president, of course, continued tweeting lies about non-existent election fraud and encouraging the subversion of the will of the people.
In Spain, which has too many political parties for me to track, there has been organized national action, consistent aid to people and businesses in need, constant national monitoring and agile adaptations on a daily basis. They seem concerned and caring about people’s lives.
Writing at the end of the year in Valencia’s La Provincia, Ismael Quintanilla expressed optimism: ”…the coronavirus is channeling solidarity, empathy and generosity. Beyond the ups and downs and the confusion, it was soon found that the way out of this crisis depends on the collective effort.
“Certainly not all people will respond in the same way to what is happening to us. It is logical. But the pandemic, beyond its individual impact, is a collective phenomenon.
“Egoism is an engine of individual benefit, intelligent self-interest. However, great changes are achieved through intelligent collective effort. This is the logic of the common good, seeking collective solutions, without underestimating individual ones, to face the great changes that are coming.”
His article is headlined, “The return to frivolity will not be easy,” quoting German philosopher Pieter Sloterdjik.
Not so over here. Shallow, selfish, mindless frivolity remains the American way – and the person who should have been the most serious filed more than 60 frivolous lawsuits and lied and lied again to pull Americans ever farther apart.
When Joe Biden takes his oath of office Wednesday – with a more comprehensive plan than we’ve seen in four years – those of us concerned about the welfare of our country can recall the reaction (translated from her Latin of Psalm 118) of Queen Elizabeth I, when informed that Bloody Mary had died and that she was now the ruler: “It is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”
(Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party: scdpok.us or facebook.com/SCDPOK/.)