As the novel coronavirus infection and mortality numbers are constantly being updated by our news business, what do the numbers really mean? For example, in a country like the US where the virus cannot be tracked because of a profoundly myopic lack of testing, it is difficult to grasp whatever good there may be in even knowing these numbers when the only thing we can really know is that the numbers can only go up, because we cannot do a decent job of testing people. In those countries where they are testing, they can track the virus. If we cannot test, then the numbers cannot be of any real use, other than panicking the consumers of news. This kind of reporting does little to sustain an informed electorate.
Understand that panic is an advantage to Republican policy priorities, which remain privatizing corporate profits (tax cuts) while socializing costs (bailouts). Leave it to any smart terrorist to take hostages while knowing they will still get to shoot a few, even when their ransom is paid.
Ever notice how people drive? An alarmingly few of us do not care to see past the vehicle directly in front of them and in their way. Count on those people pretty much living their whole lives like that. As at home or in the office, so it is on the road.
“This American carnage,” Trump stated in his Inaugural Address on January 20, 2017, “stops right here and stops right now.” It was not immediately clear exactly what that carnage really was. President Obama turned around the economic fallout from the bursting of the housing bubble during his and the late Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential race and then set this economy on a course for recovery and a roll of expansion through the end of his second term in office and well into that of his successor, Donald Trump. So, the punditocracy may be forgiven having struggled to understand the meaning of Trump’s Inaugural address language in real time, including the tag line for his remedy to that carnage, “America first.” What has become increasingly clear, however, is that a black guy from Chicago was elected America’s chief executive. Twice! And he was in the way of Republican legislative priorities.
The accomplishments of Trump’s administration and the Republican legislative agenda amount to a crippled federal infrastructure, a deregulated industrial landscape and a long list of crazy conservative lifetime appointments to the federal judicial bench.
In hindsight, it surely would have been better to hang on to some federal government “bloat.” It would have certainly been a greater good, back in May of 2018, a year and a half into Trump’s term, NOT to have disbanded the Directorate of Global Health Security and Biodefense (popularly known as the Pandemic Response Team), created in 2014 by President Obama in response to the Ebola outbreak. Next, it was foolish to ignore the World Health Organization’s offer at the end of February to provide test kits that they provided to 60 other nations that can now track the spread of the virus. And it probably would have been smarter for American voters not to keep electing government leadership that despises government. But here we are, having to shut down society so that fewer people get sick with, and probably die from, a virus we can’t test enough to track and that we don’t have a vaccine for yet.
“Make America great again,” he said, and sold it to his fans on a hat. And now the economy is in freefall and society is hanging by a thread. “Promises made, promises kept,” says Trump’s reelection campaign.
As of this writing, a week after the Illinois, Arizona and Florida primaries (and postponement of Ohio), Joe Biden leads Bernie Sanders in delegates with 1,201 to Sanders’ 896 with the total needed for nomination being 1,991, giving Biden the likely path to face Trump in November. The focus now must be on visualizing alternative leadership and taking down every Republican majority at every level of government. It should concern all Americans, let alone Democrats, how Biden’s campaign deals with this crisis and the incumbent’s approach to it. Our Democratic governors, House majority and Senate minority are doing a pretty good job keeping our priorities in the public discourse but we need more from the Democratic presidential front runner, who must find a way of getting beyond Twitter and in front of cable and network news cameras.