It took a pandemic to expose the failures of America
"LIBERATE Michigan!" "LIBERATE Minnesota!" LIBERATE Virginia!"
So tweeted Donald Trump in mid-April, early in the US pandemic. His lapdog, milquetoast Mike Pence, robotically explained to Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" that Trump "wanted to open the economy in a safe and responsible way."
There is nothing "safe" or "responsible" in those formulaic tweets.
Virginia, Michigan, and Minnesota are led by Democratic governors. This was one of Trump's dog whistles to his base, instructing them to get loud, be disruptive, and scream until they were bulge-eyed and red-faced. To tote their MAGA banners, swastika flags, rope nooses, and semi-automatic weapons over to their closest state capital, where those evil, freedom-blocking Democrats lay down laws from their gilded towers.
Why, if I can't hold my screaming brownshirt rallies because of this pesky COVID-19 pandemic, by golly my supporters can!
Those protestors are tilting at the wrong windmills. But, I digress.
Meanwhile, through no fault of their own, Americans working several jobs, families owning small businesses, gig workers, consultants, and those living paycheck to paycheck have been pushed to their nadir by a President who for months did not take seriously the threat of a pandemic. Trump didn't think to send out tech teams in January or February to each of the 50 states, in anticipation of a massive run on unemployment filings. Or instruct the Treasury to have a bailout plan at the ready, and hire whomever they would need for the coming stampede for monetary relief.
It is totally laughable, by the way, that Trump would have gotten anywhere near that granular in preparing for a pandemic which was certainly coming to the United States. He did, after all, completely ax in 2018 our executive global health and pandemic response team, and cut the funding for CDC pandemic prevention efforts in countries such as China. He was naming the Coronavirus a "Democrat (sic) hoax" as its cases dangerously multiplied in Asia and then Italy. Even today, Trump is directing FEMA to outbid states for personal protective equipment, literally stealing it from from their first responders. He is touting dangerous drugs and treatments, and muzzling his scientists. He announced yesterday that the pandemic team was "wrapping up." (The administration today reversed that decision after a country-wide hue and cry).
Donald Trump has again been exposed to the world as the vile, ignorant clown he is.
The man is a malignant narcissist, an opportunistic sadistic psychopath who does not care how many tens of thousands of American lives he is killing. It's a shame people still support this vile bastard. And it's no wonder that our State governors have had to step up and govern us in this vacuum of Federal leadership
But I want to pivot briefly from talking about Trump to what has been happening in our country, mostly because of his failed leadership.
I need to discuss my pain and horror in what I am currently witnessing. The armed protests against those very governors who are trying to keep their citizens alive. How easily a mighty economy like that of the United States can so quickly devolve into shambles. How financially precarious most people really are, despite how hard they work. How the health of workers and consumers is utterly critical to health of our economy. And how the Federal government has failed us in a deadly and chaotic way.
In this pandemic, America has been unmasked.
. . .
Since 2016, I have witnessed full-blown hate toward Democrats, atheists, Nancy Pelosi, etc. All those "liberals" (spoken pejoratively) who "want to take away our guns," "murder babies," "keep open the Mexican border." And a full-bore scoffing at science and against those "elites" who utilize fact-based arguments. And socialism: God, please save us from socialism!
Hate and misunderstanding were always directed at those described "others." In the meantime, normal, decent life prevailed: family dinners were held on Sundays with Grandma, Aunt Josie and Uncle Floyd, with the parents, siblings, and grandkids. People treasured their community, their hospitals and schools the neighbors next door and friends across town. And most people would do anything to help each other out, whether it would be a bake sale, a raffle, fighting the fires, driving the ambulance. Quiet, capable heroes all.
But as the COVID-19 pandemic began to shutter businesses across the country, and people were suddenly let go or laid off in droves due to our need to physically distance and stay safe from the very infectious and novel Coronavirus, the twin icy blasts of fear and despair began blowing. First, it was the mortal fear of becoming infected and becoming very sick, perhaps being intubated and dying on a ventilator in the hospital, alone, as what all media outlets were grimly broadcasting 24/7. Then after a couple weeks it was the fear of destitution and homelessness, of not being able to provide for your family, of losing the business you built your entire life.
In other words, the fear of running out of money and losing the roof over one's head is usurping the fear of dying, spreading a deadly virus, or both to one's own family and neighbors. Such an ungodly tragedy.
Yet money is everything. Having enough means survival.
That family and those neighbors whom you had always treasured and protected, they become collateral damage in the desperate clawing for enough money. Combine that fear with the existing misunderstanding of and hostility toward science, distrust of leaders of the opposite party, plus the flames of "patriotism" fanned by the man in the White House, and the protesters begin to angrily swarm. It doesn't matter that the sign which reads "It's my body and nobody is going to control it" paired with a photo of a face mask is hypocritical to say the least, since woman have been arguing the very same thing about keeping abortion legal. It doesn't matter that the curve of the virus all over the US is arching upward, and friends are pointing out to them that it won't matter in the end if you are dead. The angry, gun-toting hordes of Americans are listening to people like Texas Lt Governor Dan Patrick (R), who infamously told Fox News that the country needed to reopen "because there are more important things than living."
Yes, they are angry. Yes, they are acting stupid. But they are clamoring to keep their homes and jobs. It unfortunate that a lot of this violence could have been prevented with the right government.
A perverted Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs is stunningly in play, right here, right now, in the world's richest nation. Fear of losing one's home and one's food is making it acceptable to sacrifice Grandma. Loss of esteem is devolving into not caring about safety, as a result not donning a face mask in public, and even shooting a store employee who tells you it's required to enter the dollar store.
And firearms are everywhere.
The shiny veneer of America is suddenly tarnished. We are seeing the frightful underbelly of capitalism run amok, the depth of which we are all beginning to understand.
And it's unfair. It's unfair! Human beings living in a great nation such as ours deserve better. Much better. Most Americans want to work hard and not get a hand out, but dammit we deserve to have a safety net of money and healthcare, below which we cannot fall. Other countries - the reviled SOCIALIST countries - give this to their citizens. Why must America be an outlier of humanity?
It is time, during this pandemic, to ponder exactly what kind of country America should become. We should never again allow a malignant narcissist anywhere near the White House, number one. No party should ever again give someone like that the nomination. We all should be vigilant and not allow that to happen.
Number two, is America's version of bloated capitalism and minimal socialism sustainable in a post-pandemic world? In my opinion, Americans deserve and NEED an economic and health safety net like in Canada and Europe. We are watching people die from COVID-19 at an alarming rate, and are witnessing increased depression, suicide and domestic abuse. These don't need to happen. Money and healthcare need to be easily available so people don't get to that point.
Post-pandemic, we will require answers to these questions:
Why are countries like Canada paying $2000 per person, per month, if you lose your job? Why are Americans only getting a one-time payment of $1200? That is not an income. It's barely anything. How can this save anyone from ruin?
Why can Germany send workers home in this pandemic, cut production, pay their salaries, and guarantee their jobs while the mighty USA cannot/ will not?
Why are mega-corporations like airlines receiving billions of bailout money immediately, while small businesses either don't qualify for loans, or are waiting months for their check? What are the criteria for emergency loan qualification, and can they be waived during a global disaster?
Why are we allowing the NRA to rule our politicians? Why can't we have common sense gun laws, and outlaw assault-style weapons? It is frightening right now how many desperate people are armed to the teeth. Citing our neighbor to the North once again, Canada outlawed assault-style weapons this month, immediately following the massacre in Nova Scotia. Ditto for New Zealand. Why is this so difficult???
Why in God's name don't we have guaranteed universal healthcare, after a century of trying? Even during a pandemic, this administration is trying to take away health care, and people have already died in States where Medicaid was not expanded or was reduced.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already been horrid, and American business and leisure will be affected for a long time. We will adapt because we have to.
But why can't we adapt in other ways, to create a government which will ensure we will never be as frightened and angry as we are now? That our needs will be met? That our country will survive and thrive?
It goes without saying that in order to get a country like that is to vote in November. Vote like your life depends on it - because it does.
In so many ways.
More than we could have imagined.