In the last 24 hours (as I write this) another 1,290 Americans have died of coronavirus. In the cold light of everyday statistics it’s easy to forget those numbers represent actual human beings. Back on the 28th of June, for example, the son and husband of Diane Remillard from Rhode Island died within an hour of one another, aged 43 and 72 respectively. In other words, a significant part of Diane’s family was wiped out by coronavirus in a single hour. These poignant tragedies crop up from time to time and jolt us into wakefulness. They remind us of the human toll. But most of the deaths are mundane by comparison and easier to forget. They share only one common factor. They each died alone.
A couple of months ago I started making it part of my daily ritual to tweet the coronavirus death toll for the last full day. It always follows the same pattern. The latest, for example, said, “I like presidents who don’t kill 182,404 people. (As of 25 August, 2020).” Tomorrow that number will be roughly 1,300 human beings larger.
Having run in numerous 5 and 10 kilometer races and two marathons in my life, I have a pretty good idea what it’s like to walk among a thousand human beings. It’s a shockingly large number of people. It’s almost impossible to find a friend you may have lost track of in a crowd that size, for instance. I’ve been in stadiums with tens of thousands of people before, but it’s just not the same thing. In a stadium you get the whole sweep of them all at once. Only by walking among them have I ever come to appreciate how many a thousand is. Imagining them all suddenly dead in a single day is disturbing, to say the least.
That is why I have a hard time watching the Republican National Convention. Watching them pat themselves on the back for preserving racist statues and pumping up Wall Street and Donald Trump’s ego is a sickening reminder of how tone deaf they all truly are. I have absolutely no doubt that their number one theme of the night would be those dead Americans if they could pin it on a Democrat. But because they know what we all know, that those dead Americans are Donald Trump’s fault, they never mention it. They certainly don’t dare mention that “millions would be dead” if Trump hadn’t placed a partial travel ban on China back in January. Even they know how truly idiotic that narrative is.
The elephant in the room at the RNC isn’t the Republican mascot, it’s the fact that in six months Donald Trump has caused more than three times more deaths than the Vietnam war, more than 60 times more deaths than the attacks of September 11. And that number continues to go up and up with no end in sight. Trump could stop those deaths, or at least slow them down, but it would be at the sacrifice of his ego. He would have to admit, if only tacitly, that he was wrong. Because he is a narcissist and a conscience-free psychopath, Trump will never do that.
Trump could declare a national emergency, make mask-wearing essential by decree, establish a nationwide policy for social distancing and provide government funds for personal protective equipment and thereby save thousands of lives — but he won’t. Five months after the WHO declared coronavirus a worldwide pandemic Trump still refuses to take it seriously. He still gets irritated at mask-wearing reporters and pretends he can’t hear them because of the mask. He still, with a couple of exceptions to fool the gullible press, refuses to wear a mask himself.
Had Trump listened to scientists from the start that figure of 182,000 dead Americans would be nearly negligible by comparison. America possessed, and still possesses, the riches and resources to fight this pandemic more successfully than any other nation. Yet America has failed more tragically than any other. Donald Trump is why.
Another tragedy is — and there are so many — that whether he wins or loses the election, Donald Trump will continue to be in charge for the next five months. The devastation from coronavirus alone will be incalculable. We cannot afford to allow this monster to win in November. So please, for all the human beings about to die, let’s settle our differences now, in tribute and honour to their soon-to-be departed lives, and vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on November third. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.