Illness, hunger and death. A horrible deception. For the worst possible reason.
While fires continued to ravage the West, there have now been more than 6.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and upwards of 194,000 deaths in this country due to the novel coronavirus.¹ Millions remain unemployed, many without employer-provided health care insurance. Communities of color and of lower-income people continue to be hardest hit by the coronavirus. An estimated 14 million children in this country are hungry in large part due to the pandemic.² Another stimulus package is stalled, or dead, in Congress. Businesses and schools are struggling to stay open. Yet, people are burning face masks in protest.³ They are choosing to eschew this simple but effective safety precaution in the name of freedom. Of course they are, because wearing a mask has become political, an indication of one’s party affiliation, of one’s support for the president.
It didn’t have to be this way.
We learned last week, told in his own voice, that the president knew as early as January of this year that COVID-19 was airborne, that it was “deadly stuff,” that it was significantly “more deadly than even your more strenuous flus,” that it hit people of all ages — including the young — and that it was going to be very difficult to control.⁴ His response was to downplay the virus so as “not to create panic.”
But what of his penchant for attempting to cause fear and panic? A caravan from the south filled with drug-carrying, heavily-armed MS-13 “murderers and rapists”? Antifa-filled commercial airliners? The imminent invasion of peaceful, quiet and safe suburban neighborhoods? The radical Socialist Left that will “destroy this country” and “crush the economy”? Lawlessness and blight in Democratic-run cities and states? The president has made a career of creating fear and panic. It is, in part, why he is president.
Even so, there was a panic he desperately wished to avert. A panic that he feared would lead to a sell-off of his beloved Wall Street stock market. That’s why he chose to downplay the coronavirus. It was not about our well-being, or that of the country. It was about money, always money, his money, the money of his wealthy ‘friends.’ He chose money over people, money over his loyal supporters.
I live in California. I know the president’s feelings about my state and those who live in it. But what about you, his avid fan? You’ve supported him, defended him, fought for him often in the face of withering criticism. How do you feel now, knowing that he chose money over you and your family?
(If you watch Fox News, which a huge portion of the country does and is a favorite among his supporters, you may not be aware of the president’s 18 voluntary interviews with journalist and author Bob Woodward, all of which were recorded. It is not necessarily your fault. Somewhat shockingly, the network, a news network, barely mentioned them.⁵)
And let’s be clear: he did far more than simply downplay the coronavirus. He told us it was under control and would go away. He told us that wearing a mask was unnecessary and mocked those who did. He repeatedly undercut the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its experts. He held rallies. He insisted that businesses reopen and that children go back to school, suggesting that they were immune to the disease. He pushed hard for college football to resume. He changed the way COVID deaths are counted and how they are reported, attempting artificially to lower both. He delayed the delivery of test kits to states with Democratic governors,⁶ since, of course, lives of those residents are less valuable than the lives of those living in states with Republican governors. Is it any wonder, then, that while we have only 4% of the world’s population we have a whopping 25% of the Earth’s confirmed COVID-19 cases?⁷ The United States, the richest country, with the most sophisticated health industry on the planet. We are the world’s pariah.
Make no mistake. He put you, his ardent supporter, in harm’s way. He put your children, your entire family in harm’s way. His actions contributed to the death of thousands. He did this purposefully and with forethought. To you and to those you love.
This will be very painful for those who have lost loved ones, but the truth is that many of those deaths were preventable. Colombia University disease modelers estimate that 36,000 fewer Americans would have died from COVID-19 had social distancing mandates been put in place one week earlier in March than they were. Had the Federal government taken action two weeks earlier, 83% of the deaths would have been avoided.⁸ Imagine if action was taken even earlier, when the president knew of the dire threat the virus posed.
The president knew in January. He knew that COVID-19 was deadly. He told a reporter, fully aware that he was being recorded and that his words would be shared with the world.⁹ And now 6.5 million Americans have been infected and over 410,000 Americans are projected to die from the virus by the end of this year, unless the Federal government enforces social distancing requirements and mandates the wearing of masks.¹⁰ Like that will happen. That ship — carrying truth, a trust in science and a shared belief in mask-wearing — has sailed.
While running for office, Trump famously claimed that he could shoot someone on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue and not lose voters. What about having a hand in the deaths of thousands of Americans? The shooting on 5th Avenue was hyperbole, child’s play. Causing the death of thousands due to purposeful deception is real and a crime of heinous proportions. Just ask any member of the 190,000 families who have lost a loved one. Or the millions unemployed. Or those facing eviction. Or the children who are hungry because a parent or parents are out of work. Or the countless businesses forced to shutter permanently. Or the children trying to distance learn. Or the parents who are working from home while also teaching, supervising and entertaining their children. Or the millions unable to visit aged parents, family, friends. Or those unable to hug and kiss their children or grandchildren. Or those unable to shake hands with a friend.
Many supporters of the president have lost family and friends to COVID. Many have lost businesses. Many are suffering. How does knowing that he knew and could have prevented much of this had he simply told the truth affect your beliefs about him? Are you still a fan? Can you still defend him? If so, how?
In choosing to deceive us, if you believe his rationale, the president made clear his views of the American people. He thinks so little of us that he believes we cannot handle truth, that we would panic if presented the facts of a dangerous disease, that we need to be protected by lies. That we are unable to listen, adapt and defend ourselves and our loved ones. He must think we are weak and stupid, that we are cowering children. That we are “losers” and “suckers” like those who have died protecting the country.¹¹ He thinks this of me. He thinks this of you.
Tragically, he simply does not care about any of us, including you, his most loyal supporter. If he did, he would have acted to protect you. But he did just the opposite. Maybe you are that person on 5th Avenue.
We have the president to thank for the morass we’re in. He has single-handedly impacted the lives of millions of Americans. In the most horrible way possible, for the worst reason possible. For money.
¹ As of 9:00 p.m., ET, September 13; https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2020/health/coronavirus-us-maps-and-cases/ These data are from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), under the control of the White House, so who knows?