Both “Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos say life is full of risks so send your kids back to school no matter what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say. President Trump has been jetting around, greeting visitors and talking to his supporters (albeit fewer than planned) without wearing a mask in public until Saturday. His cult naturally adopted his contempt for this basic health measure. It was only when the pandemic socked red states that many Republican officials became terribly dismayed that “some people” had politicized masks.

The disdain for science coupled with lack of concern for fellow human beings was evident in Republicans’ statements about the Jacksonville, Fla., convention. The New York Times reports:

“It’s a risk you have to take,” said Morton Blackwell, 80, an R.N.C. member from Virginia who has attended every party convention since he was the youngest elected delegate backing Barry Goldwater in 1964. “You take risks every day. You drive down the street and a cement truck could crash into you. You can’t not do what you have to do because of some possibility of a bad result.”
Art Wittich, 62, an R.N.C. member from Montana, said he had a “duty” to travel to Charlotte and Jacksonville to nominate and support Mr. Trump.

What about the risks imposed on Florida’s retirees who will be more likely to contract the virus if thousands flood into the state; on airline travelers exposed to delegates often contemptuous of mask-wearing; on employees of the hotels and venues they will frequent; on those with autoimmune diseases; and on first responders who will have to turn out by the hundreds if not the thousands to secure the event? Oh, no never mind.

As for their own health and safety, however, a growing list of elected Republicans are not showing up. Risks are for the little people, the people who have no choice but to show up for work or encounter super-spreaders in their communities.

Even as the number of U.S. coronavirus cases passes 3 million, President Trump has repeatedly played down covid-19’s toll on the country. (The Washington Post)

This is all of a piece with the narcissist in chief. He is willing to perpetrate intellectual nihilism that would make the Soviets blush to discredit people more respected than he. Trump retweets a game show host’s post (you cannot make this up) proclaiming you cannot trust anyone. (“The most outrageous lies are the ones about Covid 19. Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust. I think it’s all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back, which is about the election. I’m sick of it,” the tweet said.)

Trump is willing to undermine lifesaving advice and guidelines so as to confuse the public and shield himself from accountability. Remember, like many authoritarian personalities Trump does not so much expect you will believe all his piffle, but rather you will cease to believe in any form of objective reality. We have gone beyond the point where Trump demonstrates concern about convincing people to act in responsible ways and thereby reduce the threat of the virus (which would enable people to return to work and school). He simply declares by fiat — and his enablers chime in — that others should be as dismissive of expert advice and counsel as he is. Live with it. Suck it up. Life is risky.

This is the natural consequence of a cult of personality in which the leader’s ego and survival are paramount. Trump wants to slow testing (which alerts those infected and those they have encountered so they can be traced and quarantined) because it makes the numbers — “his” numbers — look bad. No president has behaved in such monstrously self-absorbed ways, willing to wave away the lives of Americans so he can appear more successful.

The Republican Party is lock-step with him. Republicans have not only abandoned truth, their oaths of office and concern for democratic values (not a peep out of most of them since Trump commuted Roger Stone’s sentence). Elected Republicans also have jettisoned concern for the health and well-being of others. What matters is to keep Trump — no matter how crazy and irresponsible — mollified. And if others are harmed? Republicans are more than willing to consign those unlucky souls to the risks of illness and death. Life is risky — for other people.

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