By the time you read this, brothers and sisters, the 300,000th American will have died from COVID-19. To put that number in perspective, 116,516 Americans died in World War I, 405,399 died in World War II. By the time Joe Biden ascends to the presidency in January, the COVID death toll will have easily exceeded the death toll of the Second World War.
These American deaths are at the feet of Donald Trump. He could have stopped most of it. Instead he chose to politicize the disease and create confusion and conflict around it.
Trump mocked people for wearing masks. He faked irritation at reporters wearing masks and pretended to have difficulty hearing them because their voices were muffled — even though their words were easily discernible. He mocked Joe and Jill Biden for wearing masks. He downplayed the severity of the disease itself, even though we know that he knew how deadly it really was — thanks to a February recording of an interview with Bob Woodward.
Trump made not wearing a mask a macho thing, a thing of pride, thereby confusing the very reason we wear masks. We wear them to protect each other, to keep others safe, to sacrifice our comfort in the name of the health and comfort of our fellow human beings. The average Trump supporter doesn’t understand this. Even though many of them are slow and stupid, it’s a simple message that they could have easily learned: wearing a mask is one of the bravest and most selfless and most patriotic things you can do.
Donald Trump provided his low-information devotees with a smorgasbord of reasons to mistrust the reality of the pandemic, and many of those reasons contradicted the other reasons. He began by saying it was a “Democrat hoax.” Then he said that it would disappear in the spring. Then he hinted it was a deadly pathogen created in a lab in China. Then he claimed that it was only killing the very old, and they didn’t matter anyway, that the rest of us were just fine. Then he claimed a victory and falsely insisted that the pandemic was over, just days before the thousand-a-day death toll climbed to two thousand deaths a day, and now three three thousand deaths a day.
Then — in a staggering orgy of hypocrisy — Donald Trump claimed the pandemic had been politicized, and that the announcement of the vaccine was deliberately withheld until after the election in order to hurt him politically. And the drooling cretins who follow him uncritically believe all of it.
Trump’s strategy these days is to ignore the pandemic and focus on the provably false claim that the election was stolen from him. Just as in the run up to the election his focus was on Hunter Biden and the “dangers” of voting by mail, it remains scattered on inaninities — focused anywhere except on this devastating pandemic.
Welcome to the party of “pro-life.” Welcome to the party where facts no longer matter, where the narrative can be anything you want it to be as long as it suits the capricious goal of the moment. Americans have been waiting four long years to see how far Donald Trump could push the envelope before Republicans finally pushed back. We now have our answer. There is no limit. Republicans will never push back. Donald Trump can be as destructive and murderous as he wants to be, even in his death throes, and Republicans are content to allow a bunch of tinfoil hat-wearing lunatics to be their spokespeople.
It’s at times like this when the Napoleonic edict, to never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake, is at its most applicable. I’m content to let their whole stinking Republican pirate ship of corruption go down with him. If Donald Trump is the end of the Republican Party, then he may have finally done us a favor by accident. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.