While the number of coronavirus deaths in the United States approaches 100,000, to President Donald Trump only one number matters: the 270 votes that are required to win the Electoral College in November and with it, guarantee his re-election.
The deaths do not matter to Trump and he asserts that there is no reason for him to assume any responsibility for the late, poor, foolish, and politicized response that, according to one analysis, if it had been undertaken just one week earlier, would have saved 36,000 lives. If anyone is to blame, according to Trump, it’s China, even though it has also been shown that the bulk of the infections in the United States came from Europe.
And if the deaths don’t matter to Trump it’s not at all surprising, since we’re talking about a person incapable of empathizing with the rest of us mortals. He is not even capable of using a protective mask in public, so as to not affront the most recalcitrant sector of his base, the ones who even with nearly 100,000 dead insist that COVID-19 is a Democratic plot to hurt Trump’s re-election.
What is disturbing is that the number of deaths does not generate more outrage.
Just compare the numbers. In some three months, almost 100,000 U.S. citizens have succumbed to the deadly virus. In Pearl Harbor in 1941, 2,400 U.S. citizens died; in twenty years of the Vietnam War, 58,220 members of the military from this country died; the first Gulf War from 1990-1991 claimed 294 of our soldiers’ lives; the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 resulted in 168 deaths; the terrorist attacks of 9-11 took 2,996 lives; the war in Afghanistan, from 2001 to today, has taken 2,216 lives; and the war in Iraq from 2003-2011 resulted in 4,497 deaths.
However, it seems that they want to make us normalize the theater of the absurd and terrible that is the Trump presidency, and minimize the fact that we have lost 100,000 lives and that many of those who are dead could have avoided this with a timely and apolitical government response that belies all the movements of this president.
In that way, the news tell us, as if it were nothing, the latest statistics of illnesses and deaths, and in the same newscast we find out how famous people and celebrities are getting through quarantine with their mundane preoccupations like not being able to go to the gym or beauty salon, see their masseuses, or visit their favorite restaurants or vacation destinations. Poor people.
And if that was not enough we have a president incapable of treating the pandemic with the gravity that it deserves, a sector of the population that pays homage to the president and not to wearing masks, while this holiday weekend they congregated on the beaches, lakes, pools, and parks as if nothing were happening. They live in a parallel world where immediate pleasure is more important than preventing more contagion and death.
They follow the example of Trump, who went to play golf at one of his properties in Virginia, while more U.S. citizens continue to die, and he did it without a mask and without respecting so-called social distancing, with handshakes and all.
An irresponsible president who appeals to an electoral group equally irresponsible that thinks that the worst of the virus is over, and that by opening shops and establishments life has returned to “normality.”
Because Trump sees it urgent to retake electoral gamesmanship and try to convince the voters that he is doing a good job, that the economy that COVID-19 brought to its knees and the millions of unemployed people are also products of our imagination.
That is why, in the midst of a pandemic, he remains obsessed with Barack Obama and continues to look for ways to deny the vote to millions, opposing voting by mail, on top of continuing to politicize the response to the crisis with threats toward Democratic governors. At the end of the day, Trump continues to be Trump in his “normal” state.
The question is whether voter apathy will pave the way for Trump to return to the White House, in spite of everything, or if the indignation will ensure that the “new” normal that has harassed us under Trump has its days numbered.