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Opinion: Division sabotaged pandemic response

It’s a morality play, now showing in every community including ours

  • Thursday, October 29, 2020 12:14pm
  • Opinion

By Jamison Paul

The Global Pandemic was/is primarily a test of our ability to work together as a species—-and we got a C- overall, probably an F in places like the U.S. and Brazil.

Part of Donald Trump’s failure is a bias inherent in his base: His presidency has been about de-legitimizing authority; mask wearing is viewed as a show of obedience rather than common sense, and the main adversary has been global government. It’s an isolationism that views the interests of countries outside the U.S. as infringing on our sovereignty.

That and concerns for the stock market drove his initial response; his ego drove the rest.

“Government Doesn’t Work!” has been a rallying cry of the right since Reagan, and we got to see what that really looked like under Dubya, where a gutted federal government was unable to effectively respond to Katrina, among other things.

Barack Obama came in and corrected the inefficiencies under Bush, maintaining the increased executive powers of course; used those powers to fight a truculent Congress, among other things. Some of those other things included extra-judicial killings, Osama Bin Laden’s among them.

That was done strangely, by the way, and Trump’s been forwarding conspiracy theories about it, capitalizing on the way they disposed of Bin Laden’s body, and accidents which later followed.

There’s partisanship at work: I voted for Obama the first time and gave his administration the benefit of the doubt at first. Twelve years later, and Guantanamo is still in business, we’re only now making terrible deals with a resurgent Taliban to finally get out of Afghanistan, still maintain 3,000 troops in Iraq, and we’ve got new commitments in Syria and elsewhere. The list goes on and includes robust operations throughout Africa.

The idea of globalism was corrupted anyway, partly by neo-liberal economic policies, which can best be described as asymmetric opportunism, and partly by those who stand to gain the most from regionalism — i.e., a global system of expanding and collapsing bubbles where finance, which now moves at the speed of light, can jump from one to the other, capitalizing on them all, given an absence of regulation.

What does Steve Bannon call himself? An economic nationalist? He and others have been pushing nationalism in Europe, and one wonders where they’re getting the money for their activities. He’s under indictment now for allegedly taking money from that private fund to build Trump’s wall on the southern border.

Trump, for one, wasn’t equipped to deal with a national emergency, and sniveled loudly that it interfered with his rallies and his golf games — And his base wasn’t prepared to accept the guidance of any international authority, let alone the World Health Organization.

The mask interfered with Trump’s tan makeup, he made a show of not wanting to wear one, and I’m sure was delighted with a surge among the base in resentment for masks, or any restrictions related to COVID-19, which led his pandemic response further into chaos.

What’ll happen next is anyone’s guess: Biden may get the votes, but will that get him into the White House? Expect a run of pardons of anyone connected to Trump if he actually loses — but no one really expects that: Most expect at least some attempt to subvert or bypass the election, and if the Democrats suddenly grow a spine that’ll be a surprise: Everyone is afraid of the manufactured loyalty of the Trump base.

Donald Trump’s on record saying some of the weirdest things ever recorded by a president, but nothing seems to bother them; to them it’s just a bunch of hooey to play the media. It’s that disconnect that doomed our COVID-19 response, and continues to do so: Trump’s increasingly out of the closet pushing for herd immunity, which supposedly kicks in when 60% of us have been infected. Something like 2.7% have been so far. Even with a vaccine, we’re going to end up losing half a million people in one year to this.

It’s a morality play, now showing in every community including ours — but are we paying attention to the lessons?

Jamison Paul is a concerned parent and Juneau resident of 20 years. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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