Getting through the pandemic, no thanks to Trump
by Rob Tiller
After several months of trying to avoid Covid-19 virus by minimizing human contact, I’m not quite myself, and I suspect that’s true of many others. I’m not a particularly social person, but it turns out I’m more social than I thought. I miss those little human contacts, even the ones that were never going anywhere, like the friendly smile of a stranger that will always be a stranger.
I’ve gotten to be a big believer in masks to slow the spread of the virus, but they are not fun. I don’t so much mind the personal discomfort, but I do mind not seeing the faces of others. We communicate a lot with our uncovered faces, and lose a lot when they’re covered. Perhaps we’ll eventually develop new capacities to distinguish people and their emotions from just their eyes, the way sightless people can do with sound. For the time being, it seems like we’re going blind with regard to other faces.
We’re now in uncharted psychological territory. I’m guessing that there’s more anxiety and depression across the land. There have been reports of more domestic violence and suicide. Though staying home may reduce anxieties for some, and even lead to new inner pathways.
In any case, it looks like we’re going to be here for a while. Whatever our current anxieties or anxiety solutions, they will likely be changing as time goes on, because that’s how things work — they change. I’d like to think they could only get better, but I see no good reason to be confident of that. Though they might.
It would be unfair to blame Trump and Trumpism for the pandemic. But it seems completely fair to note that T&T have made a bad situation a lot worse. By minimizing the seriousness of the health threat and discouraging sensible and practical responses, Trump and those who enable him have been responsible for many deaths, with more to come.
Most everyone now knows that Trump is thoroughly incompetent, unqualified not only to be president, but for even the most minor position of responsibility. No reasonable person would engage him to water their houseplants, because he would almost certainly let them die. Then he would blame their death on the family dog.
Most of us recognize that when we have a big problem, we need a smart expert to help. But not Trump. This week he and his minions conducted a mudslinging campaign against the leading expert on the pandemic in his administration, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Dr. F is the rarest of birds in Trumpland: a person who is qualified for his position and tells the truth. So why did the Trumpists try to discredit him? Dr. F declined to follow the T line of pretending the pandemic was a minor matter and well under control, and instead acknowledged the likelihood that it wasn’t just about to go away.
Trump’s ordinary playbook for dealing with a crisis involves various combinations of pretending there is no crisis, blaming someone else for it, and creating some other crisis to distract from the first one. He’s tried all of those with the pandemic, with predictable results (that is, persuading only those Fox News viewers who will believe anything). So of course, he blames Dr. Fauci.
As Trump’s poll numbers keep going down, he keeps trying his old playbook, including fear mongering directed against minorities, foreigners, and liberals. But I noted a new element this week. The Times reported that “tensions with China are rising,” with “some” thinking that a new cold war may be developing.
I wondered, who is feeling those tensions and doing this thinking? I’ll speak for myself: not I. I’m feeling no such tension. I do not feel directly threatened by China, and don’t observe any threats to my neighbors.
If I lived in Hong Kong or India, of course, it would be quite another matter. China has a brutal authoritarian government that has expansionist ambitions, so it behooves us to watch it closely and oppose it non-violently. But I’ve seen no evidence that China wishes to have a war with us.
Although I am not tense about China itself, I am somewhat tense because of the possibility that the Trumpists may think a conflict with China would be beneficial to the president, for the same reason that racism and xenophobia are beneficial: they distract from other problems.
The pandemic has demonstrated anew that Trump views the only point of his presidency as getting reelected. That is, he doesn’t think he has a duty to protect the public, the troops, or anyone, other than himself. He’s prepared to let vast numbers of people die from Covid-19 if it helps his reelection chances. So, although it would be disastrous, it would not be out of character for him to try to get reelected by staging a wag-the-dog war with China or someone else.
But I’m hopeful that if he starts down that path, the top generals and other officials will take their Constitutional oath seriously and decline to follow unlawful orders. We may survive, with Hurricane Trump moving out to sea. We soon may be able to start the hard work of cleaning up the damage and starting to address our real problems.
I visited these sunflowers last week at Odom Farming Company in Goldsboro, NC. They have a lot of lovely flowers, and are happy to have visitors, if you check ahead.