Sometimes I am drawn back to the 1940s. I was still a little kid, but the World was in crisis. And that fact was not lost on me, despite my tender age –6-11. I was aware that the world at large—not all, but most nations—were united in their efforts to defeat Totalitarian Fascism. Europe had largely collapsed. Britain fought on, with the Channel separating them from the worst of Nazi Germany’s horrors. Germany of course continued bombing Britain, but the Brits never conceded. And then we entered the horror. Finally, civilized nations prevailed. They prevailed because they worked together, and because they knew they had to succeed, or the world was finished. Civilization itself was at risk.
And, now my mind springs forward to 2020, to another horror show. Oh, I don’t mean the horror show that is politics in the 21st century. Well, partly I do, but I was actually thinking about the Pandemic and the horror show of COVID19. This virus didn’t creep up on us in the dark of night. Nope, it sprang full blown in bright daylight, first a little bit in a place called Wuhan, and then rapidly, it was everywhere. And we seemed to just sit on our collective asses, sucking our thumbs, and drinking our beer, while the world descended into viral madness.
Could there ever have been a clearer signal that World War X was upon us? Because I am not quite old enough (quiet you, no I’m not old enough to remember the 1918 Flu Pandemic), I have no memory of that awful 1918 pandemic.
According to the CDC, “The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic in recent history. It was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin. Although there is not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide during 1918-1919. In the United States, it was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918. It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States.”
And also, we seem to ignore the fact that we have experienced other pandemics, even if not as deadly as today’s or 1918’s. “Since 1918, the world has experienced three additional pandemics, in 1957, 1968, and most recently in 2009. These subsequent pandemics were less severe and caused considerably lower mortality rates than the 1918 pandemic.2,3,4 The 1957 H2N2 pandemic and the 1968 H3N2 pandemic each resulted in an estimated 1 million global deaths, while the 2009 H1N1 pandemic resulted in fewer than 0.3 million deaths in its first year.3,4 “
It is thought that the War and the movement of troops contributed to spreading the 1918 flu virus. In any case, spread it did, and millions died as a result.
Enter 2020, and the COVID19 virus. Now I regard this virus as a global enemy, every bit as dangerous as was Nazi Germany in 1940. We are not even close to containing it. And not until we have a working vaccine will we be able to contain it. But we can “manage” its worst effects. How? Well, by all of us working together as a unified force. And who do I mean by “all of us”? Well, I mean really everyone in the world. This pandemic presents us with the best opportunity the world has seen in nearly a century for an integrated global defensive force, operating single-mindedly to defeat this virus.
Instead, what do we see? We are playing the Blame Game. And by “We” I mean the United States, under the pseudo-leadership of Donald Trump. President Trump’s first reaction to the Pandemic was to deny its existence. It was ephemeral, it would disappear as soon as the weather warmed a bit. He seemed to liken it to the normal flu. He continued making light of it, even as it began to spread rapidly around our country, and even as people began dying in the thousands.
Instead of joining forces with our own public health scientists and the scientists around the globe, he shifted into his second standard game—the Blame Game. It’s all China’s fault. But really, what does it matter if it is all China’s fault? We still need to contain it. Even now, the actual origin of this virus is unclear. It seems to have originated as a virus among bats, and then transferred to other animals. The Wuhan province first ID’ed as the origin is at least in doubt, now, although somewhere in China seems to be the origin. But again, although that question will be important to research scientists looking to the future, and ways to prevent such outbreaks, the immediate tasks seem clear:
1. Work on developing a vaccine; and,
2. Combine global forces to contain the worst effects.
Instead, our President seems to have decided on ridiculing those people who are most likely to lead us to a cure—our scientists. He who seems to have learned almost nothing since about the 2nd or 3rd grade seems to get his rocks off by making fun of other people smarter than him (which seems to be almost everybody). He seems unable to stand anyone who might be credited with giving sound, scientific advice. Instead, he wants everyone to listen to him. But he has no advice. He just wants to imagine it away. And he doesn’t just defame our own scientists. He has spent the last six months of this awful pandemic period moving us away from any global connections. Of all things, he whacked away at the World health Organization. He has slammed our own Centers for Disease Control. In fact almost everyone who has any actual expertise in this field has been tossed aside by this President.
I think also of the fairly obvious need for at least a national effort to manage the worst effects of the Pandemic.
1. Supplies—the country, the world really, desperately needs supplies of medical protective equipment—masks, gloves, ventilators, all manner of PPE. So, instead of mounting a national effort to obtain such supplies for the entire country, Trump basically backed away and forced the states to compete with one another to get the supplies, a monumentally stupid approach.
2. Education – because the best approach to protecting one another is to enforce separation –social distancing—education has become problematic. School classrooms are crowded, and like little Petri dishes. The initial approach has been to cancel school and begin a grand experiment—education via the Internet, using a new system called Zoom. Small problem: guess what? Not all kids are equal in the world of technology. The various underclasses have less access to both computers and to Wi-Fi Internet connections. Plus, we really have almost no clue how to actually educate our children, especially our youngest kids, and those kids with learning problems. So, the issue practically screams for a national, i.e., federal approach. But our President is simply ignoring this issue altogether. I guess he “doesn’t do” education, since it seems to have been lacking almost entirely in his own childhood.
3. Working Environments – the world of work has altered dramatically. Some jobs can be converted into computerized Zoom laboratories, but not all. Again, Federal, and even Global development efforts seem to be needed to develop new ways to actually work together. We cannot just sit on our asses, drinking the liquid of your choice at home until the virus goes away. But our President remains at home watching Fox News—the Nazi News Network-- or on one of his many golf courses, sucking his thumb and occasionally hitting a golf ball. He is playing no part in solving the many problems associated with getting work done while we cannot physically/safely work together in the same room. Once again, he seems to be steady on course with his main strategic approach in life—blaming someone for his own shortcomings.
I have never seen anything quite like this pretend-president. In my many years of life, I have at least been able to observe presidents dating back to Franklin Roosevelt. Never have I observed a president so lacking in the attributes we require of presidents. He cannot manage anything or anyone. He seems incapable of actually thinking, but he also seems to be unable to work with other thinking humans. Whenever he manages to come into contact with someone who has a working brain, he generally tries to fire that person, or drive the person to quit the job. We have never seen such turnover in important positions in our government. While I understand that republicans seem to value anarchy over organized government, this particular crowd of republicans seems to excel at the game of destroying everything resembling order and/or intelligence.
And so we approach an election, the Election of our lifetimes, perhaps the most important election in the history of America. And what are we seeing? Donald Trump is spending much of his public time decrying the notion of people voting at all, but especially voting by mail. And in the midst of a pandemic, and an unwillingness of people to want to stand in close proximity in long lines, voting by mail seems a reasonable alternative. But with Zero evidence, our President tells us that voting by mail is filled with fraud. This despite the fact that he votes by mail routinely. And now, he has begun to argue that he may have to act so as to cancel the election should he actually lose. Some source report, "[T]he Trump campaign is discussing contingency plans to bypass election results and appoint loyal electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative majority.
With a justification based on claims of rampant fraud, Trump would ask state legislators to set aside the popular vote and exercise their power to choose a slate of electors directly. The longer Trump succeeds in keeping the vote count in doubt, the more pressure legislators will feel to act before the safe-harbor deadline expires."
A Trump campaign legal advisor elaborated:
"The state legislatures will say, 'All right, we've been given this constitutional power. We don't think the results of our own state are accurate, so here's our slate of electors that we think properly reflect the results of our state ... If you have this notion that ballots can come in for I don't know how many days—in some states a week, 10 days—then that onslaught of ballots just gets pushed back and pushed back and pushed back. So pick your poison. Is it worse to have electors named by legislators or to have votes received by Election Day?"
How accurate is this report? I don’t know, but it seems a small jump from what Trump has been saying for months. He claims fraud in absentee voting, yet he has zero evidence, and most knowledgeable observers report no serious fraud in absentee voting.
And so our Nation approaches this election with some serious issues before most folks have even voted. We have a president who has done almost literally nothing to resolve the worst effects of this pandemic, in fact he has arguably made it worse by his arguments against the need to protect ourselves. He is a disaster in the making. He has already proven himself to be a disaster. We cannot afford another four years.
BUT, should the American people vote him back into office, we will have no one to blame for the ensuing chaos but ourselves. It is all on us now. Everything from this day forward will be determined by the American people. We will soon see what this nation stands for.