Americans want food on the table, not a sideshow from the president

Shortly after this event on Sept. 26, several senators and White House officials tested positive for COVID-19. Courtesy of the White House via Instagram.

I wanted to write about a potential second stimulus bill. The unemployment rate is at 8 percent after starting the year at around 3.5 percent and four out of 10 renters nationwide face eviction if no stimulus bill is forthcoming. This second stimulus bill is a pressing issue for millions of Americans, and it deserves the time and care required to unpack the long- and short-term ramifications on all factions of the American populace. Everyone should be wondering why the first stimulus bill passed so easily while this second one has not even seen a vote in the Senate. Instead, we all have to focus on the complete clown show that is now literally spreading from the West Wing.

Let me set the stage for the sheer scale of this asininity: The President of the United States of America was in the hospital, taking experimental treatment, for a disease that has killed over 200,000 people in the United States (and over a million worldwide), while his staff and doctors are giving contradicting accounts of not only his health but the timeline of events and where the president was after he tested positive for COVID-19.

The simplest account would start at the beginning, but it’s unclear where the beginning is. According to the two timelines, each given out by people working closely together in the same building, President Trump could have been diagnosed anywhere between midday on Sept. 30 to the evening of Oct. 1. This may not seem like a big difference, but within that time period Trump held a rally in Minnesota, went to a fundraiser, flew halfway across the country and had another meeting with donors in New Jersey without a mask. I need to stress that this is just the diagnosis of COVID-19 that is unseated in time; the timeframe for the actual onset of COVID-19 is even murkier. As far back as Sept. 26, Trump was around at least six people who have since tested positive for COVID-19. Three days later, three days after holding a superspreader event in honor of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Trump went on the debate stage, without being tested, and endangered the only other major presidential candidate.

Again, I will point out that regular Americans are having trouble finding jobs and paying their rent and would really like some governmental assistance but instead are forced to sit around and wonder how much our governance system can take. People would like to be able to eat and have a place to come home to at the end of the day, not worry about the stability of the federal government.

A Supreme Court seat is empty, several senators who are vital for filling that seat and for passing a stimulus bill are infected, and the president just left the hospital in the midst of conflicting reports on his health. That’s all three branches of government destabilized during a time that is as deadly for Americans as World War II and more financially crushing than the Great Recession. It is not a healthy situation for a country to be asking, “Who’s in charge?”

President Trump has had several photo-ops since entering Walter Reed Medical Center, but they only provide fleeting glances into the reality of his stay. (Courtesy of the White House via Instagram)

Who is in charge? That’s not a rhetorical question; we really don’t know. The White House says it’s still Trump, but the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Saturday, “We’re still not on a clear path yet to a full recovery,” and Trump’s vitals were “very concerning.” Trump is ostensibly in charge, but outside of a few planned appearances on camera we don’t even know if he’s conscious. If Trump is incapacitated for any length of time, then Vice President Pence would take charge, but that hasn’t seemed to have happened. The tweets sent out from the President’s Twitter account could spark a war or cause a financial meltdown, and the scary thing is we have no idea who’s sending those tweets right now.

Returning to the time of diagnosis, there’s an even greater grievance to be laid at the feet of the President if he was diagnosed positive on Sept. 30: He was aware of the danger he posed to others and disregarded it. He willfully crisscrossed the country and exposed those around him to COVID-19. If he was diagnosed on Sept. 30 and not Oct. 1, he could be legally liable for endangering those around him. If he had the knowledge that he was positive, and he still chose to hold rallies and fundraisers, shake hands and mug for the camera with others, he should be charged with a crime—be it in Minnesota, New Jersey or the District of Columbia. He recklessly endangered those around him and should be prosecuted accordingly.

Of course, that’s only if he was diagnosed on Sept. 30. Sources conflict, and they are all part of a shroud of lies that surround the White House. Should we really believe anything the White House spokesperson says? Is a COVID-19 vaccine coming in the fall? Is it floating down the river with a bunch of illegal ballots? The answer to all of these questions is no. No vaccine is coming before the election, there were no ballots in a river and the White House spokesperson is not going to give us anything we can believe when it comes to the timeline or condition of the president’s health. We might trust the doctors, but we might also recall that they called President Trump, who is 74 and technically considered obese for his height, the fittest president ever. The White House Chief of Staff might be believed, if he wasn’t talking out of the side of his mouth half the time as an anonymous source. There is nobody who can be believed about the state of the President’s health. 

This should go without saying, but in the current partisan polarized climate, I have to say it: I don’t wish death upon the president. I wish he were a better person, or he were out of power. I don’t wish he were dead, though he probably deserves to be.

Normal Americans, those who aren’t crossing state borders while carrying a deadly, infectious disease, just don’t want their home foreclosed on or their food assistance to run out. They don’t particularly care whether the stimulus is $2.2 trillion or $1.5 trillion; they want to make ends meet and live to see another day outside of this pandemic. They haven’t seen their families for months, they’ve lost loved ones and they’ve sacrificed so much. What they’ve gotten for that sacrifice is a front row ticket to a tragedy of errors. The election is in 27 days, and this is the best foot the current White House could put forward.

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