Opinions

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Sick of “Winning” Yet?

By Chris Waide

April 28, 2020

I sit here in my small corner of the world, cut off from the rest of humanity, and I feel what we all feel. I feel alone. I feel scared. I feel angry. We all grew up hearing the fairy tales about “the land of the free,” or “the greatest country on Earth.” In recent weeks I’ve been wondering, Where is this magical land? How did we end up being the hardest hit nation in the world with COVID-19 when we had so much warning? How do we know what to believe when a lot of the information coming out is slanted towards a particular political party?

China, the World Health Organization (WHO), and governors of individual states are favorite scapegoats for an administration devoid of intelligence, conscience, or competence. President Trump addresses the nation nightly to flaunt the success of the federal response to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19, which has left over 50,000 Americans dead in just the last couple of months.) Most news outlets see the briefings as distracting, divisive, and dishonest. Some have criticized the president for using these briefings as surrogate campaign rallies.

If you thought we learned from the AIDS epidemic that pathogens don’t discriminate, if you fooled yourself into believing that we were done naming diseases after specific groups of people like GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency, the original name for HIV/AIDS), if it even crossed your mind that we might have evolved from a time when irrational fear could spark hate crimes against a particular group, you haven’t been paying attention. People of color in America are well accustomed to the racial slurs and profiling they face in their daily lives. In an atmosphere already polarized by race, containing a population gripped in fear, and a president refusing to back down from his decision to coin COVID as the “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan fever,” it should come as no surprise hate crimes towards Asian-Americans have skyrocketed during this crisis. Trump doubled down on his hateful rhetoric and failed to condemn the racially charged violence unfolding on the streets of America.

As the virus spread around the globe, countries began to shut down one by one. Everywhere the virus struck, hospitals became overwhelmed and people were placed under strict lockdown procedures. Italian hospitals were so overwhelmed that doctors were forced to allocate ventilators based not on need but on chances of survival.

Yet Trump and FOX News spent weeks equating the virus to seasonal flu. They pushed an anti-malarial drug Trump has a financial stake in called Hydroxychloroquine as a miracle drug, even though it hadn’t been satisfactorily substantiated. Doctors and health officials insisted that nobody should be taking Hydroxychloroquine unless under medical supervision because many people would experience dangerous and alarming side effects. Undeterred, Trump continued to insist everyone should take it, insisting people had nothing to lose. He didn’t shut up about it until one man died in Arizona after he ingested fish tank cleaner listing chloroquine phosphate as an ingredient, and a new study found using the drug to be more dangerous than going untreated. Fox News has a lawsuit pending against them now for their deceptive reporting.

The Fox/Trump relationship has always been a frightening dynamic, but now it’s absolutely terrifying. For many Americans, the reality perpetuated by the president, collaborated by the network is the only truth they know. All other networks are forced to spend their time correcting the sometimes dangerous misinformation and propaganda spewing from the White House these days. Any reporters who dare to ask a factual question or hints at anything other than complete deification of Trump is viciously attacked. These questions are “nasty,” the reporters are “terrible people,” and the networks are “fake news.” Fox seems to be the only network he likes, and they parrot each other constantly. Now that the president has suggested injecting people with disinfectant, prompting a rise in calls to Poison Control and forcing Lysol to issue a statement telling consumers not to ingest their products, one has to beg the question; how long until people start calling into Tucker Carlson to testify that mainlining Clorox saved their lives?
Trump gloats about closing borders, but the borders were never fully closed, and the virus was already circulating in the United States. Damning documents have since emerged showing the president was warned for months about the threat of the virus, but was reportedly too preoccupied with his impeachment trial to do his job. He has insisted that the federal government is only there for back-up, and that the responsibility falls solely to state governors who lack the resources to handle such a crisis. As pointed out by Governor Cuomo, states are not allowed to run at a deficit, only the federal government can do that. This is a national crisis, with no sign of a national response.

Trump declined to accept testing kits from the WHO, choosing to have the CDC create their own instead. The vaccine was late to roll out and didn’t work. Despite repeated claims that anyone can get tested, this is not true. While crafting this piece I called around my local municipalities. You can go to a testing site, but unless you’re showing severe symptoms you will be told to isolate at home with no test.

He told states that the federal government was not a shipping clerk and that we would be responsible to acquire our own ventilators which led to all fifty states competing against the world, each other, and FEMA. Colorado ordered hundreds of them, only to see FEMA scoop them up. Trump then released a fraction of the order as a personal favor to Cory Gardner, one of several republican senators set to be fired this year. By contrast, he sent Chuck Schumer of New York a letter saying he wouldn’t send aid because Schumer had worked to impeach him.
When the two trillion dollar relief package was passed, Trump once again proved that he is desperately bereft of any redeeming qualities, insisting that he would do his own oversight, claiming he’s not subject to congressional oversight, and firing the IG tasked with ensuring the money was appropriated accordingly.

So here’s the rundown of what he’s actually done. He allowed the virus to spread unchecked for weeks, he let 50,000 die and counting. He prioritized the stock market over our lives. He passed the buck anywhere he could to accept zero responsibility. It’s the WHO’s fault for not having the authority to force China to be more transparent (even though Trump praised China for being so transparent.) It’s the Democrats’ fault for attempting to hold him accountable. It’s the Governors’ fault for not already having ventilators. It’s Obama’s fault for not having adequate testing even though the virus was discovered in 2019, long after Trump took office. President Trump has loaded this buck with so much cocaine, I fear it may never stop.

But maybe he has a point. We all knew he was dangerously unqualified for the position, and those of us with half a brain smelled his nationalist brand of fascism and authoritarianism a mile away. Constitutional scholars, reporters, former intelligence agency personnel, and former White House staff have been warning us from day one that he doesn’t understand the difference between a president and king, that he’s dangerously unstable, and that he’s unbelievably corrupt. Anyone who watches him speak for longer than five minutes and doesn’t question his claim of being a “stable genius” should consider having their water tested for lead levels.

So here we are in our darkest hour with nobody to guide us. We can pretend this washed up reality TV star knows better than the experts. We can pretend that the man sued for running fraudulent universities and charities is the only person we can trust, or we can face reality and come together as a nation. If the last few months have taught us anything, it’s that we simply do not need a president. Real leaders like Cuomo in New York, Tim Walz in Minnesota, and Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan have stepped up to the plate, coordinating around the asinine administration to form a makeshift unity between states. They’ve proven to be exponentially more effective than the lackluster federal response. In the meantime, I urge my fellow citizens to listen critically to the politicians, heed the experts and please, just stay in your damn homes.

"All we have to do is get out and vote, while it's still legal, and we will wash those crooked warmongers out of the White House.” — Dr. Hunter S Thompson