Donald Trump’s supporters have demonstrated time and time again that their loyalty knows no bounds. They see his authority and wisdom as ultimate. While many in the liberal world chuckled at the irony of Trump being hospitalized by a virus whose severity he downplayed for months, his supporters were standing by his leadership as firmly as ever. And now the president’s recovery from the virus—at least to the public eye—will only serve as fuel for his supporters’ steadfast faith.
Trump’s loyal followers will no doubt see this reality as proof of the president’s strength and worthiness to lead the country, and they’ll ignore the fact that he received some of the best care from, as Senator Bernie Sanders pointed out, a 100 percent government-funded (socialized) medical center, despite having repeatedly warned his supporters that Democrats are going to force the country to turn to “socialized medicine.” In reality, Trump was able to make a speedy recovery because he had access to some of the best care in the country. In fact, Trump liked his small taste of socialized medicine so much, he trusted it with his life and was willing to give it praise in a video statement made in front of the Oval Office.
This occurred only days after he denigrated socialized medicine in the first presidential debate when he used the term to mock Joe Biden and his proposal to expand the Affordable Care Act, which, to be clear, is most certainly not socialized medicine. In reality, Biden’s plan on expanding the ACA includes a Medicare-like public option that would serve as a more affordable alternative but not a replacement for private health insurance. But this isn’t what Trump’s supporters are going to focus on. They are going to see him making video statements and dramatically removing his mask upon returning to the White House. They are going to hear him touting the supposedly miraculous effectiveness of his Regeneron treatment and think that this whole time that he has been downplaying the danger of the virus, he was, in fact, right as always.
Trump’s supporters aren’t going to see the dozen people in his circle and others in the GOP who have tested positive for the virus, demonstrating a clear lack of understanding or lack of consideration of the nature of the virus at the highest levels of our government. A recent study conducted by The Pew Research Center found that 89 percent of Republicans who rely on Trump and his task force for information regarding coronavirus say that the United States has controlled the outbreak as much as it could have, compared to 59 percent of Republicans who receive their COVID-19-related news elsewhere. This is not a promising sight: People are getting their information from the president who has himself caught the virus and been surrounded by nearly a dozen people who have also caught the virus and yet they are still believing Trump when he says we have the virus under control.
Nearly 215,000 Americans are dead and the president continues to spin disinformation about the virus despite himself falling victim to it. And yet, despite the nearly quarter of a million death toll the virus has taken on our country, and the fact that some of the highest ranking members of Trump’s circle have demonstrated their disregard for its severity, his supporters will see him as having overcome the virus through sheer force of will and will double their faith in him and his ability to lead us out of this pandemic.
In this reality, there doesn’t seem to be much light at the end of the tunnel. Just a few weeks ago, we as a country set a new record for the newest daily cases since mid-August with over 55,000 new cases of the virus in one day. As much as I would love President Trump to be right that we are managing the virus and recovering, that is not the reality. He touts the treatment he received as the cure, but that is only because he received some of the best medical care in the country thanks to funding from the government. But due to the reservation of both Republicans and Democrats regarding “socialized medicine,” that kind of medical attention is not available to the vast majority of people in this country. The end of the pandemic in this country is not in sight and the road to a new normal will be long and winding, but it is not the road that Trump is leading his followers down.