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Tackling Trump: Where the President Went Wrong

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     On Dec. 31, 2019, the Chinese government confirmed that it was treating dozens of people in Wuhan suffering from an unknown disease. 
     Ten months later, the United States is in freefall. 
     It’s easy to rip apart China for their secrecy and unwillingness to share crucial information early-on, and it’s easy to rip apart the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) for their bungled response to the initial stages of the pandemic. While their failures definitely contributed to the disaster that has unfolded, they don’t lead this country — President Donald J. Trump does. He failed when the nation needed him most. 
     While Trump loves to blame China for the pandemic, Trump was fully aware of the outbreak in Wuhan well before the first recorded case in the U.S. In fact, he knew about the impending crisis as far back as January; we even raised alarms about it in the Westerner on Feb. 13, 2020. 
     Yet, oddly enough, Trump did nothing. 
     The foreign intelligence reports were ominous, bringing ghastly news from Wuhan to Trump’s desk for weeks. 
     Still, nothing. 
     Trump pretended that the so-called “Wuhan virus” was never going to hit the U.S. He knew that was false, but was willing to ignore the facts. Despite his attempts to appear unconcerned, Trump himself said in an interview with Bob Woodward back in March that he knew Covid-19 was “more deadly than even your strenuous flus…this is more deadly. This is 5% versus 1%, and less than 1%. So this is deadly stuff.” Even worse, in his own words, he stated, “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic.” Clearly, his plan backfired.
     By Jan. 30, the W.H.O. declared Covid-19 a global health emergency. While Trump did place travel restrictions on China the next day, loopholes still allowed tens of thousands to return to the states. As the outbreak began to spiral out of control, Trump tried to reassure the public everything was fine, emphasizing that Covid-19 was essentially the flu. In February, Trump sold the U.S.’s entire PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) stock to China, and then ignored  government officials’ concerns about a lack of equipment and testing. The fact that his administration knew the dangers of the outbreak, ignored every expert’s objection, and then continued to pretend everything was fine, is perhaps the biggest blunder to ever grace America.    

     By April, the northeast states were overwhelmed, and the death toll was climbing. Frontline medical workers and first-responders were pushed to the point of mental collapse. Morgues ran out of room. The economy crashed and we entered the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. 
     And what did this self-proclaimed wartime president do? 
     He continued to gaslight the American people, insisting that life was normal when tens of thousands of families were now broken. 
     Bolstered by his administrative officials and fervent right-wing media pundits, his lies spread from the confines of Twitter to mainstream media. He helped 
push forward conspiracy theories and non-existent drugs like hydroxychloroquine as cures, and he railed against lockdowns and demanded governors “reopen” the economy. However, reopening too quickly led to another uptick in cases, another uptick in deaths, and only more restrictions, hampering any economic recovery. His decision to push reopening led to a massive surge of cases 
and deaths in the Sun Belt states during the summer. And his response to the resulting daily death toll of 1000 dead Americans? “It is what it is.”
     Because of the federal government’s undermining and apathetic response, states were left blindsided by the pandemic, leading to severe lockdowns that crippled the economy. While failures by state officials contributed to the death toll as was seen in New York, New York learned from its mistake. Most of the country never did. And, even as the graves continued to be dug, Trump didn’t even care. 
     Internal documents and other reports show that the Trump administration tried to manipulate CDC reports on the pandemic, censor scientists and doctors, pressure the FDA into legitimizing fake cures, and tried to discredit its own medical experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci. Trump even attempted quid pro quos with states, giving funding based on which states kowtowed to him. 
     You would expect this out of dictatorships, not America. 
     When the public needed clarity, Trump continued to lie and contradict his doctors, even suggesting bleach injections as a solution. But his lies resonate most with his followers. Armed protests took over state capitals, and masks became a political issue instead of a common sense public health mandate. His followers began to disregard their fallen countrymen as if American lives didn’t matter, going as far as to call it a hoax despite the bodies piling up all over the country and survivors facing long-term damage to their health. 
     Trump lied, people died. 
     The weeks and months wasted, the lack of resources, the bureaucratic infighting, the lies and confusion, the lack of empathy for the dead — all led by a man who had the tools to stop this from becoming as bad as it did, yet knowingly sat back and spent his time golfing instead. Before Covid-19, Trump made America a laughing stock. Now, the world is bewildered that the richest, most powerful nation in human history, lost to Covid-19. 
     Unfortunately, despite his immense failure, Trump will continue to lie, like he always does. Trump failed America; every figure in that body count was a person. Someone who isn’t just a number, but a person with a name. It could’ve and might’ve been you. We the people of the Divided States need to find someone to unite what Trump’s torn apart.

 

 

 

Written by Johnny Nguyen
Illustration by Kira Palmer
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