How Is More Virus Good Politics?

Terry H. Schwadron

June 24, 2020

Clearly, Donald Trump sees ignoring the reemergence of coronavirus as something to ignore, and avoiding the reality as a political plus.

Just as clearly — setting aside medical logic — I don’t get how that political case works. The medical case is insane. Maybe the political case makes sense, but I don’t see how.

Contagious diseases just don’t become easier to handle if you ignore them. And, the question of masks aside, it is hard to see how trumpeting rallies that ignore public health rules, opposing mail ballots in a time of virus, insisting on re-opening even in the 23 states with rising case numbers contribute to good politics.

Indeed, I don’t see why Trump or his campaign aren’t blanketing the nation with Trump-stamped masks. OK, even accepting the absurd idea that masks run afoul of constitutionally guaranteed individual rights, why wouldn’t Trump be promoting the wearing of masks that advertise his campaign?

As someone who disagrees with Trump about almost everything, I’d be happy to see his administration prove successful at dealing with controlling a pandemic.

Instead, he doubles-down on policies –not just attitudes — that make things worse.

But doubling-down and redoubling that more testing means more cases is ridiculous. There are no more pregnancies because of testing, there is no more cancer because of testing, and there is no more hospitalization for serious COVID because of more voluntary, self-prescribed testing. Testing doesn’t cause COVID, contagion does.

And it is provable at this point that allowing widespread public, unmasked, non-distanced gatherings in closed places helps to incubate contagion.

Even from an economic viewpoint, masks cost a lot less than hospitalization.

Doubling Down

Trump yesterday dismissed any idea that he “jokes” about coronavirus testing — as his campaign and spokeswoman tried arguing about slowing down testing to lower the increasing discovery of coronavirus cases.

Rather, as Senators Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and Patty Murray, D-WA, noted, it turns out that the federal government is sitting on $14 billion of unspent coronavirus testing money. The Health and Human Services Department is sitting on funds that Congress okayed in April to expand coronavirus testing and tracing, including for uninsured.

Just yesterday, testimony before Congress confirmed that the feds were pulling the plug on support for testing sites in Texas and 13 other states, just as cases are rocketing up, to transition to the already broke states and private insurers.

Trump’s comments have drawn widespread derision from health experts as well as politically connected commentators.

It seems easy to conclude that Trump will do anything, say anything, to dismiss the idea that there are rising coronavirus numbers. He consistently points to the idea that this nation of 350 million has done 25 million tests, though most were self-requests from people who reported already having some of the flu-like symptoms and those seeking unofficial clearance to return to re-opened jobs.

Let’s review here. Trump did close air traffic from China — sort of, still allowing another 40,000 flights after his close order, and late — and was very late in learning that the virus was actually coming from Europe. He started taking charge before withdrawing to either state controls or off/on support for funds and coordination. Three years into office, he was surprised apparently to find that he had never stocked emergency shelves and had gotten rid of the people and plans to fight pandemics. He did provide ventilators — late — and after insulting governors left and right, but mostly left. He promoted useless drugs and treatments without scientific backing. Generally speaking, he has remained on the edges of this contagion other than to press for credit for a job well-done and to criticize governors moving too slowly to re-open fully — even as the science shows the virus spreading again.

Trump thinks this record makes him a champ. Most Americans think it makes him a chump.

By all accounts, he is looking at the Centers for Disease Control anew to find a new blame victim for his own scattered approach. In the name of Robust Economy, Trump forgets that many of the 122,000 dead people needn’t have died.

Worse, we’re going to continue to face this until there is a vaccine(s) that Trump can tell people to ignore.

Our Individual Rights

Rather than device government policy and strategies to assure safe re-openings, Trump stands behind some kind of strange virility argument that somehow the mask is a symbol of weakness — or of public disapproval of Trump himself.

My question throughout has been why we are re-opening without unleashing the full powers of the Occupational Safety and Health services of the Labor Department to guarantee enforcement of new rules in the workplace, or why we have no strategy from Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos about how to encourage safe classrooms, or from the Housing and Urban Development about making public housing less contagious, just as New York has tackled cleaning the subway system.

Instead, coronavirus is just another political scorecard, for and against.

Pursuit of Life, Liberty and Happiness still starts with the Life part. You see an activist Trump administration about abortion in pursuit of life, even when it is possibly endangered or unwanted. You see an activist administration in defense of evangelical religion for Liberty reasons.

But there is only silence about whether my Life, Liberty or Happiness is endangered by the Other Guy refusing to wear a mask and keep six feet away,

I have yet to see Trump or Pence or even CDC head Dr. Robert Redfield in an actual emergency room where the worst of the disease is still killing people. Instead, we get carefully staged photo ops, even thumbing Trump’s uncovered nose and mouth.

Masks are a stupid hill to die on, said blogger John Pavlovitz.

The virus is a loss for Trump, and his political self needs to find someone like me, the media, China or Barack Obama to blame.


Journalist, musician, community volunteer