THE AUDACITY OF SHAME
CAN AMERICA CONFRONT ITS DEADLY FAILURE?
Just when you thought you might breathe a sigh of relief in America with the victorious Biden administration on its way, it turns out that over 73 million people voted for Trump, the loser. That is truly difficult to comprehend for most of us who did not. Worse yet, since the national response to the coronavirus pandemic was clearly on the ballot, you have to assume that most of those “enlightened” souls were impressed enough with Trump’s pandemic response that they continued to support him. And despite overwhelming evidence that COVID-19 was exponentially rampaging through the populace as the election approached and that well over 200,000 Americans were already dead on his watch, they voted for him anyway.
Now, Trump is splitting time between a post-election bunker and the golf course refusing to do anything to advance a national plan to confront the coronavirus, while continuing to support the coronavirus denial narrative. That leaves those 73 million souls in a quandary – wear a mask or give up all of your freedoms. What to do?
An initial national plan to move forward has been repeatedly articulated – a mask mandate, enforced social distancing in public places, readily available testing and contact tracing, and consistent messaging from public officials and the scientific community about personal hygiene and the dangers of indoor gatherings of any kind. Starting there and starting now is critical, particularly with the news that there may be a vaccine on the horizon. While this is good news for sure, it cannot be allowed to provide yet another excuse for the nation to avoid the inconvenience of collectively trying very hard to save some lives and protect so many others from tragic outcomes.
However, the potential for future vaccination of the populace is so fraught with serious logistical and public health challenges that not even the most optimistic vaccine purveyors believe that vaccination will happen in large numbers before the Spring. That leaves almost sixty days until the Biden inauguration and four months before Spring arrives. At the current rate of over 150,000 new coronavirus cases a day, that is over nine million new cases by inauguration day and more than double that to the first day of Spring. The COVID-19 death numbers are equally staggering at a present rate of over 1500 humans a day.*
There has been and continues to be so much wrong with the US response to the pandemic and the resulting casualties that it is hard to know where to start. But to be clear, Trump and his acolytes are now standing in the way of the development and implementation of any cohesive national plan, only adding to the blood on their hands from the daily death count. As a nation, we were ready to go to war, raise the flag, and trumpet our national might when 3000 of our own were killed by terrorists on 9/11. Now, 73 million Americans seem content to sit on their “patriotic” hands while that number are dying preventable deaths every two days and counting.
To illustrate how we got here, it was not so long ago that the governor of South Dakota, a full-throated cheerleader for the coronavirus denier crowd, welcomed Trump and thousands of guests to a big old July 4th rally at Mount Rushmore. Freedom was everywhere, in every unmasked smile and virus spewing cheer. No need for social distancing, it was all one big Trump-crazed family taking one for the unmasked emperor. And then to follow up and reinforce the messaging, how about a huge motorcycle rally in the midst of a pandemic? Another good idea from the governor of South Dakota - bring tens of thousands of drunken and drugged Trump biker “patriots” from all over America in August to celebrate this great country of ours in a place called Sturgis, population 7000. Well, as of today, the COVID-19 test positivity rate in the great state of South Dakota is just under 50%,** and there is still no mask mandate from the governor.
By looking back just a little and trying to comprehend the present, it should be clear that President-Elect Biden has quite a challenge ahead of him. Planning can begin now, but a national plan cannot begin to be implemented until Trump gets out of the way.
Since Trump and his acolytes are unable to accept being losers, let’s tag them as killers and see if we can get their attention. Now, even more than before, that is surely what they are. They are killing people in America who don’t have to die. While this may not be the time for legal niceties, “negligent homicide” seems to fit the bill.*** And it is surely time to make it part of the conversation.
I am certain as I write this that the number of coronavirus deaths will soar in the days and weeks ahead. This is not a medical conclusion. Rather it is the only conclusion that reason suggests as we watch millions of Americans gather together for the holidays believing that “they” are immune from tragedy, kind of like people who text and drive and keep loaded guns in easy reach of the children they say they love. But more than that, it will be the price that the nation pays for its flailing and failing collective morality.
As freedom rings and holiday bells jingle, as choirs sing and families gather around a tree sharing good cheer, this will also be the season for many to visit hospitals and funeral homes trying to figure out how it is possible that daddy is dead. Well, let me tell you, daddy is dead because a nation with the resources to keep daddy alive and well collectively failed to do so.
It is also because of a failure of national leadership that has no historic precedent. Let me repeat this – Trump and his acolytes have blood on their hands. Those who support his continued refusal to cede authority immediately to the incoming Biden administration for implementation of a national pandemic response should check their hands as well.
Yes, I am a Trump hater, and I will cheer the day that he is held accountable for his crimes.