I live in New York which, according to the latest CDC data, has the top cluster of coronavirus cases in America. As of March 26th, New York state had nearly 40,000 confirmed cases. Our hospitals are quickly becoming overwhelmed, particularly in Manhattan where the 911 system can’t keep up with the exponential growth in calls to the extent that they’ve been forced to leave some patients home if they aren’t deemed sick enough.
The one bright light in the midst of this darkness is Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor. Cuomo has shown consistent leadership and support to his stressed out constituency for weeks. His daily press briefings are must-see TV in my house — not just because they include a wealth of critical information about the spread of the virus and the state’s attempt to mitigate its impact on New York residents, healthcare workers, and businesses, but because he is calm, level-headed and, as New York Times’ columnist Ben Smith, pointed out, he’s the control freak we need in this crisis.
Cuomo’s transparency, his obvious compassion for his family and fellow citizens, and his pragmatism under duress are reassuring. These are things I desperately need right now when it feels like the world is ending. Cuomo is modeling what it’s like to lead with integrity, but there is a flip side to his decisive leadership — Donald Trump.
Trump downplayed the virus for weeks, making his first public comments about it on January 22nd then failing to act decisively until mid March. On March 10th, Trump said “It will go away. Just stay calm.” This was three days after Cuomo had declared a state of emergency in New York State and the same day the virus cluster in New Rochelle was beginning to explode.
It wasn’t the imminent loss of life or the persistent pleas from health experts, state politicians, and scientists that motivated Trump to finally start taking the virus seriously. That would imply he actually cared about saving lives. No, it was Wall Street that lit a fire under Trump, motivating him to begin work on a mammoth stimulus package meant to prop up the economy while so many of us hunker down and wait for the worst of this nightmare to be over.
Trump is still playing his reality show games even now, as hundreds of people are dying. He’s turned his nightly pressers into political rallies meant to boost his ego and demoralize his critics. He’s blaming democrats for using the virus to harm him politically. He’s blaming the media for being overly critical even when they’re just reporting facts (as per usual). He’s blaming scientists and experts for…I don’t know…telling the truth? He’s blaming China for the existence of the virus. He even blamed Obama for not preparing the CDC to deal with a pandemic even though he fired the U.S. pandemic response team in 2018 to cut costs.
Trump is using this crisis to sow even more division among Americans, pitting states against each other for equipment and staff as the number of cases continues to rise.
Why is Trump doing this to us? Because he wants to win the election in November and he wants people to adore him. If you don’t adore Trump, you don’t get federal aid. You see, Trump does not care who dies. I’m not the only one who thinks this. The term #TrumpGenocide has been trending on Twitter for the last couple of days.
Michigan is an excellent example of what happens when Trump doesn’t like you. He’s annoyed with Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, who has been critical of the slow federal response to the spread of the virus in her state (join the club).
At a daily press briefing, Trump bragged about instructing Mike Pence not to respond to governors in need of help if they were critical of him, saying, “Mike, don’t call the governor of Washington; you’re wasting your time with him. Don’t call the woman in Michigan [Governor Whitmer]. It doesn’t make any difference what happens. You know what I say: If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call.”
I don’t know what’s more horrific — that Trump would say something like this at all or that he would say it without fully understanding (or caring about) the implications. This is your president, but if you live in Michigan, he doesn’t care if you die — even if you wear a red MAGA hat and express your unending love for him.
Trump loyalists are perpetuating the fiction that, as a democrat, I would rather see Trump fail than see him succeed in saving lives. Please, stop saying this, especially if you have a platform. You’re wrong. I don’t care if you’re a Trump supporter or a republican or an asshole like Governor DeSantis who has been blaming New Yorkers for the virus’s spread in his own state (even though he refused to close the beaches last week because of spring break.) I want this problem solved, not just for me, but for you too.
I want my kid — and yours — to go back to school. I want to be able to pay my mortgage and go food shopping without fearing for my life. I want this for you too. I want this for everybody.
Trump is a monster who only cares about himself. Trump is the best thing that ever happened to the coronavirus and that’s bad news for everyone (even Trump). And you know what? If you’re amplifying Trump’s lies, particularly if you have a platform, then you’re a monster too — that’s every damn person at Fox News.
Trump is letting this happen. He’s not making mistakes. He’s making deliberate choices with the intent to hurt his perceived enemies. He’s punishing every New Yorker. He’s letting us die. Are you a Trump supporter? Do you think you’re safe? You’re not. He doesn’t care about you. If you’re in New York (or Michigan or Washington or NJ) then you’re guilty by association and he’s fine letting you die. Trump. Is. A. Monster.
I need to know that someone more powerful than me is worried about my survival and my 70-year-old parents’ survival. I need to believe that someone is trying to figure out how to keep the gears of society turning and that we will get through this without our entire infrastructure irreparably collapsing. I don’t care what party that person comes from — I need them to be present and honest and competent.
I keep turning to Cuomo because, quite frankly, what’s happening at the national level, with Trump at the helm of this sinking ship, has been keeping me up at night. I’m glad New York’s governor is on top of this, but my heart feels heavy for the fate of America. We need a leader that cares about us and right now, we have a grifter who might very well outlive us all.