The coronavirus isn’t political. It’s a virus that will impact us all without bias. The response, however, has most certainly been political. It’s been political because like so many issues that should have been non-partisan before it, like Starbucks cups or the weather, Republicans chose to make it political.
Trump refused to allow tests to be developed by states or private US groups. He didn’t want existing tests from the WHO. He did that because he wanted to keep the official numbers down to make his insane claims of it being “a Democratic hoax” or “under control” look better. He ran away from questions and stated bluntly “I don’t take responsibility at all” when pushed on the abject failure of his administration’s response, instead trying to blame Obama more than 3 years after he left office.
The undeniable truth is that Republicans did not act. They chose to sit by and do nothing. They did that because of politics. The harsh reality they faced was that to act would be to admit Democrats have been right about every policy we’ve been proposing.
Look to every idea now being put forth as the best ways to alleviate the damage of this crisis and who has been proposing them for decades. Expanding health care: Democrats. Paid sick leave: Democrats. Ensuring childcare for workers: Democrats. Listening to scientists: Democrats. Unemployment protections: Democrats. Now even sending $1000 out to adults to aid in basic necessities like food and rent: Democrats. Democrats. Democrats.
Here’s what Republicans offered in the face of a global health crisis: Tax cuts to businesses, an oil bailout, and a bank bailout. That’s it. End of list. The only response to a pandemic from Republicans was to do everything they could to prop up the market based on the single idea they have left, that being giving handouts to those that need it the least. And then Mitch McConnell took a 3-day weekend.
To call this a failure in leadership doesn’t do the calamity justice. Trump has made things worse every time he’s opened his mouth. After reading from a teleprompter in a prepared address to the nation his team had to scramble to correct 3 massive falsehoods he told and in doing so tanked the stock market he values above all else. He only just now, in mid-March, tiptoed up to the truth that this is a rolling disaster and it isn’t going away. He held an infomercial in the Rose Garden where all we learned is which companies Trump’s friends and family were investing in and that Trump and his sycophants don’t get what social distancing means.
Our fill-in governor here in Missouri, Mike Parson, could have been quarantined in total isolation for the last month and no one would have known the difference. His response has ranged from “there’s nothing we can do.” To “local government should do whatever they want.” He declared a state of emergency but didn’t bother to elaborate on what to do about it.
All of us now must act to do what we can to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and help our communities and nation get through this. That means making personal sacrifices in the immediate like canceling trips and avoiding social events. It means checking on each other as many cope with a sudden new reality of necessary isolation. It means looking out for our neighbors who may be at higher risk of severe cases of the virus.
What we must do after is also clear: In November, in every race for every office in every district across the nation, we must elect Democrats. We have seen the immense danger of perpetuating the lie that there is any merit to Republican ideology. We must work to make sure this is the last time we allow them to fail us. The stakes are undeniable, with our very lives depending on it.