For weeks, the White House has been advancing a “herd immunity” approach of essentially letting the coronavirus infect the majority of the population. President Trump insists that the United States is “rounding the corner” despite record-breaking infection rates and rising hospitalizations. Trump continues to compare coronavirus with the flu and complains that the media spends too much time spent covering it. During the final presidential debate, Trump accused former vice president Joe Biden of wanting to “lock Americans in their basements for months on end.”
None of this made sense. Public health experts have been forced to debunk each inaccurate and misleading statement. All the while, the Trump administration insisted that it has a plan.
How could this be? Well, now we have our answer. In a CNN interview on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows stated bluntly: “We’re not going to control the pandemic.” When pressed on why not, Meadows said the novel coronavirus “is a contagious virus just like the flu,” and that “what we need to do is make sure that we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it’s therapies or vaccines or treatments to make sure that people don’t die from this.”
There it is. That’s Trump’s plan — to accept our fate and surrender to the virus. Cross our fingers and place all of our hopes on vaccines and therapies. In the meantime, live our lives as we did before, ignore the rising death count, and let the virus rip through our communities.
While we should be horrified, we shouldn’t be surprised. Not because Trump and his minions are horrible people–though they are–but because, as some asshole with a blog noted months ago, this is what Republicans do (boldface added):
…the Trump administration, along with many of its Republican collaborators, has a plan. It’s just that the plan is so horrifying that many people don’t want to believe the administration would do something like that. The plan is simple. Restart businesses, and let the American Carnage ensue. It will disproportionately affect minorities and lower-income people–and if those people were better people, they would have been wealthier and whiter, so fuck ’em anyway. I think they also believe–likely incorrectly–that the carnage will be confined mostly to urban, Democratic areas. Meanwhile, TEH STONKS! will be doing well, so all is good.
That’s the plan.
Before you make a counterargument, consider this: the Republican Party has spent the last forty years undermining worker protections and environmental protection. Why would they suddenly change their ways? This is what they do because they believe it’s the right thing to do, as horrifying as that is. Sure, this isn’t some toxic sludge, it’s a virus. But they have never cared about workers or public health, so why would they start now?
The absence of a plan to reopen safely as reasonably possible is the plan because they don’t care about your safety or health.
To claim that the scope of the crisis will encourage them to rise above their typical behavior is to make the same mistake many people made in the run up to the Iraq War. Yes, Little Lord Pontchartrain might have lied a lot about budgets and other things, but war–the Most Serious Action a President Can Take™–was too important. Surely, he and his administration wouldn’t lie about war? (narrator: they did). Meanwhile, Trump has an even more strained relationship with reality than Bush did.
They–not just Trump, but Republicans–believe this is the right thing to do. Never forgot that. Never forgive it either.
Anger, if not rage, is the appropriate emotion.