My Facebook feed has been full of unkind comments about the “protestors” who gathered together–in close quarters–to bewail the loss of their “liberty” to catch and spread the Coronavirus.
Granted, these gatherings were small, and definitely not genuine grass-roots displays. Numerous reports have identified the the rightwing, “astroturf” organizations funding and organizing them. Participants, however, have been drawn from the ranks of the true believers–the people who are convinced by the conspiracy theories of loonies like Alex Jones and who look askance at “elitists” like Dr. Fauci.
A few days ago, I posted about the critical social role played by trust, and the importance of government in creating it. As the saying goes, fish rot from the head. When you cannot trust anything your government tells you, why would you trust the CDC? Or your doctor? (Why is my doctor pushing vaccines? Is s/he getting a kickback from Big Pharma?)
It’s easy enough to look at the recent protests and conclude that the participants are stupid or demented or both. For that matter, it’s not unreasonable to conclude that anyone still supporting Donald Trump is similarly demented–or so consumed by the racism and bigotry Trump stokes that nothing else, including basic competence, matters.
After all, in order to believe that the pandemic is a politically-motivated hoax–in order to risk your life on that belief, you would have to overlook more than the overwhelming ineptitude of this administration.
You would have to be able to ask–and answer— the following questions:
Why would a President who claims to be addressing (“perfectly”) a serious public health crisis encourage people to rise up against the very measures his administration has advocated to abate that crisis?
Why would a President insist on lying about the availability of testing and equipment? Nearly a month ago, Trump promised that 27 million tests would be available by the end of March. We are now in the latter part of April, and according to most reports, only 4 million tests have been conducted.
Why would an administration tell the states that dealing with the pandemic is their job, and proceed to make it more difficult for those states to get the protective equipment they need? Reports like this one have been widespread.
Over the last few weeks, it has started to appear as though, in addition to abandoning the states to their own devices in a time of national emergency, the federal government has effectively erected a blockade — like that which the Union used to choke off the supply chains of the Confederacy during the Civil War — to prevent delivery of critical medical equipment to states desperately in need. At the very least, federal authorities have made governors and hospital executives all around the country operate in fear that shipments of necessary supplies will be seized along the way. In a time of pandemic, having evacuated federal responsibility, the White House is functionally waging a war against state leadership and the initiative of local hospitals to secure what they need to provide sufficient treatment.
If a President isn’t doing anything wrong–i.e., stealing us blind, or withholding supplies from states led by Democrats, or diverting funds meant for struggling Americans to wealthy friends and supporters–why does he undermine any and all efforts to monitor his behaviors?
Time Magazine recently reported on Trump’s most recent refusal of oversight. Congressional Democrats had insisted that the bill authorizing pandemic aid contain three oversight mechanisms: an inspector general at the Treasury Department to oversee the $500 billion Treasury fund, and Congress and executive branch panels to monitor the Treasury fund and broadly oversee the law’s implementation. Trump signed the bill, but said he would ignore those provisions, and would not allow the Inspector General overseeing the executive branch’s committee to submit reports to Congress. This is arguably illegal/unconstitutional, and entirely in character: Trump has waged war against rules and Inspectors General throughout his term.
Gee, I wonder why?
Presumably, protestors and others who believe in the various conspiracy theories think that facts–some reported by multiple, credible journalists, some attested to by Trump’s own tweets and bloviations–are false. They, and only they, are privy to the real story.
Many of the dispiriting details of the real real story, of course, probably won’t be known for years. One thing, however, is already clear: the malpractice of this horrific administration goes way, way beyond mere incompetence.
And it is killing people.