Alan Zendell, October 13, 2020
Now it’s personal. I’ve seen it happen in other places, watched it evolve on TV and every media outlet, because one of Donald Trump’ least endearing qualities (out of so many to choose from) is his need to constantly dominate both the airwaves and the broadband signals.
Trump’s willingness to sacrifice the health of the Americans he swore to defend for his own benefit is beyond dispute. For anyone who had the slightest doubt until now, his resumption of densely packed rallies with no distancing or masks surely silenced them. And Trump supporters at his rally in Sanford, Florida last evening seemed to gleefully accept it, proudly proclaiming to the television cameras that they don’t care about the pandemic, saying brilliant things like, “If I die, I die.”
That’s fine if they’re, say, cliff diving at Acapulco, not putting anyone else at risk except the unfortunate fish they might land on when they hit the surf. But in Sanford, these imbeciles were, and still are putting my family and friends at risk, and I am PISSED. Thanks to Governor Ron DeSantis, who has mismanaged the pandemic using the Trump playbook, the infection rate in Florida remains north of ten percent. For every thousand people who attended that rally, around a hundred were likely carrying COVID, and some fraction of those were spreading it to the people with whom they were packed shoulder-to-shoulder.
Those same people then stopped in motels, shopped in local stores, and dined in local restaurants which remain open at near capacity. Professor Michael Osterholm, Director of Infectious Disease Reasearch at the University of Minnesota, this week predicted that Florida would be the worst hot spot in the country during the second wave of the pandemic, for just those reasons. Central Florida, where life revolves around theme parks, beaches, football, and nightlife is a place where an alarming percentage of the population value their “personal freedom” over everything else. In Florida-speak that means they have no respect for rules or authority.
Trump’s rally was the very definition of a super-spreader event. That’s extremely personal to me, because it occurred five miles from where my son, my daughter-in-law who is days away from having a baby, and my two grandsons live. They shop in the same stores and take out food from the same restaurants in which those rally goers are still shedding virus today. The kids go to school with other kids whose families are equally at risk from Trump’s total disregard of their health and well-being. If that’s not bad enough, Florida being what it is, the next stop for many of those lemmings who are happy to follow Trump off the nearest cliff was to jump into their pickups or mount their hogs and head for the nearest beach town with their guns and confederate flags.
Unfortunately, that means they headed to the county where my wife and I spend a third of every year so we can watch the kids grow up. It’s also where many thousands of seniors reside full time or vacation, many of whom are our friends and sometime colleagues. Some of our friends, who are in their seventies and eighties, are severely health compromised. For them, the only way to remain safe is to live in a bubble for the next few weeks, until the wave of sickness and death that will surely emanate out of Sanford passes.
A reasonable person might ask what is driving this madness. The answer is Donald Trump’s ego and need for adulation. Three weeks out from an election which he will almost certainly lose, Trump’s only hope of victory is to broaden his support. Yet, he is embarking on a series of typical Trump rallies which are attended by only his most committed supporters, the ones he was referring to when he said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose a single vote. Most political observers believe these rallies will do nothing to improve his chance of being re-elected. Their only purpose is to provide our president with a daily sugar high.
During the AIDS epidemic of the eighties and nineties, people who knowingly, deliberately exposed others to the HIV virus were prosecuted and convicted. The courts found that such negligent disregard for the health of others was a crime. If that was true, what can we say about our president? What percent of the quarter million deaths that we will have amassed by Election Day does he own? The modelers and epidemiologists who know best say 80-90%.
Do I sound angry? As I said, it’s personal now.