Just three months into his presidency, President Barack Obama found himself face to face with the developing H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic. He declared it a Public Health Emergency just six weeks before the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic. After this declaration President Obama declared a National Emergency and the full strength of the U.S. government brought it under control, eventually eliminated the threat. In total 12469 people died in a 16-month period. Today in 2020 America’s in a State of Emergency that looks dramatically different. Despite there only being 504 deaths so far, the nation is paralyzed in a way that didn’t happen under Barack Obama. We can attribute our current apoplexy to one thing: BAD LEADERSHIP.
Donald Trump has experienced privilege his whole life. Having been given a fortune by his father, he has always been able to pay smart people to make him right. The recent college admission scandal gives insight to the way Trump likely made it through high school and college. Anyone paying attention to him answering questions at his press conferences can sense his detachment from the subject matter. Here’s a fictional example; if you are driving with Donald Trump and ask which way to turn, he’ll say, “we can turn left; we can turn right; we might not turn at all; but we’ll definitely get to our destination, which is the biggest and best destination ever.“ While that answer may sounds fancy and make him seem knowledgeable, it is not at all constructive and won’t get you to where you need to go. If pressed, Trump in this case would either insult the person probing for information or defer to someone who actually knows which way to go. If Trump happens to tell you to go the wrong way, he would adamantly state that it’s the right way and his staff will agree while turning you in the right direction. People get paid a handsome salary to clean Trump’s mess. It seems to be the way he operated in private business and as long as they agree with everything he says and give him credit for their expert decisions, they can get rich from being part of the “Trump Train.” This worked well for Trump because the American government, which serves as his check and balance, was designed in his favor and thus, gave him favorable outcomes. It has even been successful in his presidential career, where when he went in the wrong direction by withholding Congressionally approved aid to Ukraine to pressure the Ukrainian President to investigate his political rival, the new Trump Train, the Republican Party, turned America in the right direction by releasing the aid and simply said he did nothing wrong; they used their Constitutional power to protect him from a constitutionally mandated impeachment.
Sadly, Mother Nature trumps (no pun intended) American authority and neither Trump’s team, nor the Republican Party can perform “Trump cleanup function” against her unrelenting Coronavirus; President Trump doesn’t seem to understand this. When the first known case of Coronavirus arose in November of 2019, Donald Trump, in typical fashion made the wrong decision by not acting. He now says the Chinese government held back information but when was the last time the United States allowed a country to protect information it wanted? We actually had a CDC expert embedded in China whose duty was to look out for disease outbreaks. The President Trump fired this person just months before the Coronavirus outbreak. Trump’s first tweet about Coronavirus was on January 27th and it wrongfully assured us that there were “few cases” in the US and that our “experts were extraordinary.“ This was a typical Trump-fashion LIE but to be honest, it seems he really didn’t not grasp the gravity of the situation. In truth the virus was spreading at full speed and because of President Trump’s lack of leadership, we got caught with our pants down. To make things worse, in his ongoing efforts to undo the Obama Presidency, President Trump dismantled the Pandemic Response Team that President Obama created in 2014. This team’s job was to foresee and preempt these types of events by coordinating the various government departments for a strong unified response.
For the next month, while hundreds died in China and a Chinese ophthalmologist even indicated on Social Media that COVID19 was a sleeping giant of an epidemic soon to wake up, the President, the Republican Party and various conservative news outlets, in concert, downplayed and minimized the Coronavirus threat. President Trump tweeted that since the flu kill 37,000 and COVID19 only had 546 cases and 22 dead, that American “life and the economy should go on.” He even used it for political capital by falsely stating that Joe Biden was in charge of the H1N1 Swine Flu epidemic in the same way Mike Pence is in charge of the current one. None of these tweets indicated that our leader had his head in the game or understood the situation’s seriousness. The first time the President seemed to be fully briefed before a press conference wasn’t until March 17th, over three months after the virus became known. The effects of this denial mixed with positively spinning negative realities was citizens not taking authorities seriously when they finally began asking them to take safety measures; Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other conservative media figures had them thinking Coronavirus was a flu-like common cold that didn’t affect young people.
As more and more people became infected and the duty to lead became inescapable, President Trump gathered the newly bolstered Trump Train in the White House Rose Garden for a press conference. He paraded a mixture of key scientists and doctors truly interested in fixing the crisis with various executives from CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, Walmart and Target. Trump seemed more interested in convincing America that private business could save the country; It seemed like he was only trying to prove a point. I couldn’t help but keep thinking, “they can’t even keep toilet paper stocked. How the hell are they going to save us?”
America is paralyzed not because of a virus, rather because a strong leader didn’t get in front of this crisis, wrap his head around it and firmly tell Americans what’s happening, what the government is doing and what we as citizens should do. The result of this lack of leadership is everyone going it on their own. Everyone from individuals to companies to State Governments took measures into their own hands. People flooded the grocery stores and stripped the stores bare of water, food, toilet paper and paper towels. States began cancelling school, organizations like the National Basketball League (NBA), NASCAR and Major League Baseball. Events like the Coachella Music festival, South-by-South West and the Kentucky Derby postponed their events as well. Liability was likely the primary driver of these actions because without a Commander in Chief to defer to, the liability of a company’s decisions fall squarely on that company. With a wishy-washy leader giving long-winded responses to questions that don’t yield definitive answers, American businesses, facing responsibility for whatever actions they took, decided not to risk it and simply shut down; eventually State Governors, being the next step down from Federal leadership, stepped in and mandated that bars, restaurants, theaters and other large-gathering businesses alter their business practices. One March 19thCalifornia mandated a statewide lockdown. Other states soon followed suit and by Friday the 20th, the Stock Market fell nearly 1000 points that day, beginning an erosion Obama era gains.
Now that the Trump Administration has gotten us into this mess, they are passing various stimulus bills and you can tell they’re all geared at businesses. It’s funny that the Republican Party is either a one-trick pony or a unanimously shady group. They literally want to bailout corporations, give loans to small businesses and pay a $1000 hush fee to citizens. This is what the Trump tax cuts did. This is the same as “Trickle Down Economics.” Give more money to those with money is what the Republicans have always pushed and their scheme works. They are getting what they want because they wrote a Relief Bill with a huge corporate advantage and it served as the starting point for negotiations between Democrats and Republicans. When they finally agree on something, the Fed Rate being at 0%, we’re going to print money and inflating the dollar to get out of this. Who knows when other countries will abandon the dollar to save themselves. While the relief bill might provide some type of bounce, the American economy is doomed and we might not be able to pay our way out.