It is fair to ask: What don’t Republicans understand? Hundreds of thousands of Americans have taken to the streets. Within weeks, two police officers — one in Minnesota and another in Georgia — have been charged with murdering African American men who posed no threat to them. And still Republicans serve up crumbs.
It is no different on the coronavirus front — another example of grave racial inequality in America as people of color are hospitalized and dying at much higher rates than whites. Republicans don’t seem to care: The Tulsa World reports that “Oklahoma has hit another high in new COVID-19 cases, with 259 more confirmed infections, the state reported Wednesday.” Health officials are practically begging people not to attend an indoor rally for President Trump where tens of thousands of unmasked MAGA fans will congregate: “State Department of Health Commissioner Lance Frye, a medical doctor, said in a prepared statement that those attending large gatherings in the city ‘will face an increased risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and becoming a transmitter of this novel virus.’”
Tulsa health official Bruce Dart has implored the president to postpone the rally. “I’m extremely concerned,” he said earlier in the week. Meanwhile, 500 Oklahoma medical professionals wrote an online letter to Tulsa’s mayor. “Allowing our city to be one of the first places in the world to host an indoor gathering of this magnitude is not a political matter, it is a public health matter,” they said. “As our city and state COVID-19 numbers climb at a rate previously unseen, it is unthinkable that this is seen as a logical choice. It has the potential to shake our cities infrastructure and stress our healthcare systems. It will undoubtedly cost lives.”
Trump shrugs. The GOP shrugs. Vice President Pence writes in the Wall Street Journal that there is no second wave; everything is getting better thanks to his boss. At the same time, The Post reports: “On Tuesday, nine states — Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Texas — had reported either new single-day highs or set a record for seven-day new case averages.” (My colleague Philip Bump points out that Pence is technically right since we are still in the midst of the first wave.)
And once more, Senate Republicans sit on the Heroes Act passed by the House that is vital to fund testing and tracking and replace lost revenue for states afflicted with the virus, not to mention extend unemployment benefits.
The lights may be on at the White House and in the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), but for all intents and purposes, no one is home. More African Americans will be killed by police, and more covid-19 hot spots will develop. But do not expect Republicans to do much about either. They know how to attack, to lie, to enrage and to spin. If only they knew how to govern.