You wouldn’t have lost your job; the government would have had a comprehensive support program that kept unemployment low. You’d be able to see your family and friends without fear. Your children would be returning to school in September. There would be some precautions to take for a while longer, but there would be no doubt that the pandemic was on its way to being defeated.
To us here in the United States, this picture seems magical, like a dispatch from the far future. But it isn’t. It’s the situation that exists right now in many of our peer countries around the world. And the fact that our situation is so different? That shouldn’t just make you feel disappointed, or anxious, or upset.
It should make you enraged. That is the proper response to where we find ourselves today.
Let’s begin with the situation in other countries. Here are new case totals from Monday for a few of our peer countries:
- France: 580
- UK: 564
- Spain: 546
- Germany: 365
- Canada: 299
- Japan: 259
- Italy: 200
- Australia: 158
- South Korea: 52
And the United States? 55,300.
Some of these countries were in extremely bad shape for a time, but with sane leadership and a population willing to work together, they’re in the process of defeating the pandemic. But not us.
There are many reasons we have experienced this catastrophe (and it quickly became two catastrophes, an economic crisis added to the public health crisis), but one stands above all others: President Trump.
Is there a single aspect of his response to this pandemic that has not been a miserable failure? For weeks he ignored warnings and denied that the pandemic would be a problem. He didn’t prepare the equipment and systems we’d need to respond.
We have no national testing strategy — still! There is no national contact tracing program. Trump turned over the effort to coordinate the distribution of supplies to his incompetent dolt of a son-in-law. He responded to efforts by governors to impose strong lockdowns by berating them and calling for their states to be “liberated.” For months he not only refused to wear a mask but also belittled those who did, successfully turning a vital public health tool into a polarized political issue.
And he demanded that everyone around him echo his insane claims that everything is under control and the pandemic is being vanquished. It was a month ago that Vice President Pence pathetically proclaimed that “we are winning the fight against the invisible enemy,” and the administration’s great success was “cause for celebration.”
And now, rather than working harder to contain the pandemic, the White House has begun a furious campaign to discredit the federal government’s chief infectious-disease specialist, Anthony S. Fauci, who has had the temerity to admit that things aren’t going well. Trump himself has clearly decided that he’s bored of worrying about the pandemic, so he’ll stop trying to do anything about it. With over 135,000 Americans dead and counting.
How can you look at what has happened to us and not be enraged?
Just consider the economy: the tens of millions of people unemployed, the millions who have lost health coverage, the tens of thousands of businesses going under, the tens of millions of people who could soon be evicted. None of it had to happen. In other countries it hasn’t. But it happened to us.
Or think of the millions of children who will wind up losing a year or maybe more of their lives, without the opportunity to be educated, to build and sustain friendships, to just be kids.
Even if you’re lucky enough not to have gotten sick or lost a loved one, you’re the victim of a robbery. Trump stole so much from all of us — our time with friends and family, our mental health, even our faith that our country could meet a challenge.
Don’t let him get away with saying that it would have been worse were it not for him, or that we only have so many cases only because we’re doing more testing. Those are lies.
Anger is often toxic in our political lives. But there are times when our leaders — or in this case, one leader in particular — ought to be the target of every bit of anger we can muster. To give him anything less is an affront to the truth. To let our anger dissipate into a miserable resignation is to give him a kind of forgiveness he doesn’t deserve.
Before the pandemic, Trump was one of the worst presidents in our history. But now he has laid waste to our country, with his unique combination of incompetence and malevolence — and he’s not done yet. Once we finally rid ourselves of him, it will take years to recover. But as we do, we should never for a moment forget what he was and what he did to us. And we should never stop being angry about it.
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