By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (7/27/20)
Dear Fellow Readers,
There are now 16 million coronavirus confirmed cases in the world with 4.3 million of these in the United States. We crossed a threshold of 4 million cases in the US and, sadly, we crossed a threshold of 150,000 deaths. The number of new cases daily in the US has tripled in six weeks going from 21,000 per day in late April to 67,000 now. Deaths have doubled from less than 500 per day to roughly 1,000 per day in three weeks.
Surely there is some coming together over how best to manage the pandemic?
There is some coming together around combatting coronavirus, but it’s not universal and it may not be enough to save as many lives as possible. Trump is helping in his own upside-down way; Trump’s failure to lead us through a pandemic has caused him to move on to foist abuses on American citizens in another way by putting federal troops on the streets of Portland to feed selective videos to Fox News to mete out his Law & Order abuses on peaceful protesters.
There is an increasing acceptance of wearing masks and honoring social distancing. School reopenings will not be a mass ‘all open’ effort, it is now an acceptance that many areas are simply not safe for reopening and others will delay or pursue hybrid or staggered reopening. The governors who followed Trump’s reopening lead most closely are being judged harshly.
Worst performance goes to…
Credit for the worst performance has to go to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). As of Sunday Florida is now second only to California for reported cases, both have overtaken New York. Even Trump and the GOP saw the writing on the wall and cancelled August convention plans for Jacksonville, Florida.
After claiming his own ‘Mission Accomplished’, DeSantis has cooked the books to lower the numbers, he ignores the pleas of mayors for statewide policy, he’s pushed for universal return to schools, the state unemployment system is in shambles, tourism as a huge driver for the economy is in shambles — but on Friday when the state reported 12,444 new cases DeSantis traveled to DC to sit with Trump for a drug pricing dog-and-pony show. DeSantis approval in the state has dropped from 50% in April to 38% and I can’t imagine how it is that high, but there is a lot of rabid Trump loyalty in the state.
One roadblock to a more universal acceptance of combating coronavirus is that the impact is not felt universally. A hotbed for coronavirus in Florida is Miami, averaging about 3,000 new cases daily, a fourth of the new cases for the entire state. But even there, unless you live in Hialeah or another hard hit neighborhood you might not feel the impact personally. My mother is 93 and lives in Miami. I asked a neighbor for his view and he assured me that there are no more fist fights at the Home Depot nor shoppers shouting about the tyranny of masks at Publix, otherwise, things are quiet.
Lake Worth, two counties north of Miami and home to nearby Trump residence Mar A Lago, is home to 80,000 indigenous Guatemalans – “The thousands of Guatemalan men who manicure the golf courses and gated communities of South Florida were deemed essential workers.”
“More than 30 percent of those tested in Palm Beach County’s Guatemalan-Mayan community — a population of around 80,000 — have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, three times the state average. Many believe the infection rate to be far higher. Of 130 families enrolled in an early-childhood education program through Lake Worth’s Guatemalan-Maya Center, for example, 80 have been infected.”
This is a story we’ve seen play out over and over with the coronavirus. Is it really a serious issue if we don’t experience it directly? The experience of these indigenous Guatemalans in over-crowded, unaffordable housing is summarized by the director of religious education at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Indiantown, Juan Carlos Lasso, “they don’t see what’s happening until a pandemic comes”. If even then? Last month DeSantis noted the problem, but only to affix blame, “overwhelmingly Hispanic day laborers are a major cause for the spread.”
Trump leaves DC after his photo-op with DeSantis and heads out for another weekend golfing. Trump Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and chief of staff Mark Meadows want you to know, “We’re not going to use taxpayer money to pay people more to stay home.” You might be tempted to question why Trumpsters that will be hurt by such an attitude would rebel. But that never happens — a Trumpster agrees while operating with the certainty that ‘they, the others’ are the lazy ones that should not be rewarded for being lazy.
No call back
A hint of a ray of sunshine, we’re not the only people being ignored by Trump. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has been pleading with Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee to write a check to the National Republican Congressional Committee. No dice. The urgency is felt to be due to declining support over Trump’s handling of the pandemic — fingers crossed, another example of ‘whatever Trump touches dies’.
Trump and coronavirus have shown all he is simply incapable of combating a real problem, but as with any good authoritarian, if he can create an ‘other’ — a boogeyman — he can rally his base. Even when ‘other’ are military veterans or a Wall of Moms, Trumpsters only see the out-takes that Fox News can use to reinforce the ‘other’ as anarchists and murderers. Just like the communities hardest hit by coronavirus are the problem, and it’s not real for the sel-described hard-working white communities.
The problem Trump has beyond his base that believes anything he says is that he is no longer the outsider who purports to make things better — he’s the insider making things worse.