The New York Times published an article on Monday about how autocrats and other world leaders are using the coronavirus pandemic to pass emergency legislation. For example, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán can now rule by issuing decrees while Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu has closed the court system, suspended parliament, and commandeered secret personal data to track citizens. While this may not be surprising, it begs two pressing questions: Will these countries give up these new powers once the world reopens? Are all these measures really needed to fight the pandemic?
Although the article asks the right questions, it fails to mention anything about the world’s leading up-and-coming autocracy: the United States. Just weeks ago, as COVID-19 continued its spread around the world, the official word at the top was first that it’s a “hoax” and then that “it’s going to be just fine” and “we have it totally under control.” As we enter April, Bone Spurs is now running with the idea that it would be “good” news if only 200,000 American citizens wind up dying.
With this backdrop of abject lunacy and dangerous incompetence, Republican lawmakers across the country have been going full-Gilead on us, insisting that an abortion has no place during a pandemic. States such as Alabama, Ohio, and Texas have instituted abortion bans, imposing fines and even jail time, calling abortion a “nonessential procedure” that deprives medical professionals of the supplies they need to fight the coronavirus. However, abortion is not like some elective surgery that you can put off indefinitely, and let’s not forget that some abortions are needed to address serious health risks and even save lives.
Fortunately, Donald Trump has been so busy making a fool out of himself at the White House coronavirus task force briefings that he hasn’t yet had the chance to figure out how to dissolve our court system. On Monday, federal judges in Alabama, Ohio, and Texas issued restraining orders in lawsuits brought by Planned Parenthood and other groups to stop these states from enforcing their abortion bans at least while arguments are pending.
We don’t know when this coronavirus pandemic will end, but we do have a date for when we can send a loud and clear message that the United States is not destined to become some sort of full-blown dystopian autocracy led by a sniffling, draft-dodging imbecile. November 3, 2020 can—and must—be the day that changes everything.