Most Americans have been doing everything possible to protect themselves, their families, and communities — by social distancing, wearing masks, holding events remotely. More than 210,000 Americans have lost their lives; people have lost jobs, and children are missing out on school.
Despite the crisis, Donald J. Trump has shown disdain for health measures and for those who follow them. In last week’s “debate,” he made fun of Joe Biden for wearing a mask just two days before he tested positive for the virus.
Americans who “don’t listen to science or medicine, who think masks are too intrusive, who pack bars, who willfully risk spreading the virus, you are making it worse for all of us. You are extending how long this pandemic will last,” Jake Tapper, host of CNN’s “The Lead” said. “And it is tragic to say, many — if not most — of you are taking your cues from the leader of the free world.”
Tapper concluded: “Sick and in isolation, Mr. President, you have become a symbol of your own failures — failures of recklessness, ignorance, arrogance — the same failures you have been inflicting on the rest of us.”
Many counties in Kentucky are in the “red” zone as their cases begin to accelerate. The Kentucky Department for Public Health defines “critical” spread as a county having more than 25 daily cases per 100,000 people on average. These Trumpy areas are refusing to follow recommendations of our Department of Public Health. We can watch in real time what happens – spreading events occur and people get sick and possibly die needlessly. Sadly, we now are viewed by some as embracing the anti-science, conspiracy crowd of the GOP.
A truck driver outside an early voting station in St Joseph, Missouri, told The Guardian, “It’s a hoax. There’s no pandemic. As Trump said, how many millions die of flu?” He added, “It’s political. I don’t trust the U.S. government at all. Who are they to mandate personal safety? I listen to Trump.”
Really? Then let’s not require a driver’s license, a pilot’s license, age limits on gun ownership, or food inspections for contaminates.
Last week during the presidential “debate,” Trump tested the faith of more than a few of his supporters. His contraction of coronavirus has raised further doubts after Trump repeatedly undermined medical advice as the COVID-19 death toll surged past 210,000.
His family openly defied the Cleveland Clinic’s regulations requiring masks at the debate. Trump attended an election rally in Wisconsin the next day and failed to wear a mask. Several staff members, including adviser Hope Hicks, former aide Kellyanne Conway and senior policy advisor Stephen Miller, have also tested positive. The White House staff are reaping what they have sewn.
Many Americans are showing signs of despair at Trump’s cavalier attitude to the pandemic and his ability to turn a medical emergency into a political loyalty test. A woman quoted in the same Guardian article said, “Trump thinks he’s better than everyone else. It was a matter of time before he got coronavirus because he doesn’t believe in masks and he doesn’t understand the function of masks. But I think he could win again. There’s a lot of stupid people in this country. Maybe they want a despot to rule them.”
After months in which Trump and others in his party questioned the danger of the virus, the Republican Party is now coming face-to-face with the scientific realities of the pandemic.
“There was a panic before this started, but now we’re sort of the stupid party,” said Edward J. Rollins, co-chairman of the pro-Trump super PAC Great America, in the Washington Post.
Stuart Stevens, of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, said “there is fatalism” among GOP officials and donors.
Many Republican officeholders, however, remained publicly muted on their unease over their political future.
“Their extraordinary rejection of what scientists have been recommending is coming home to roost,” said Irwin E. Redlener of Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness in the Post.
Redlener, said that “everyone who hitched themselves to the president’s dishonest messaging about the virus is being confronted with the reality that the president himself is sick.”
In contrast to what Trump said in the last debate, “Don’t ever use the word ‘smart’ with me,” perhaps we should ask ourselves if Forrest Gump’s mother was right?
“Stupid is as stupid does.”
Marshall Ward is a Murray resident who is a member of the Democratic Party. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.