(I wrote this for the Urban News in October 2020.)
It should come to no surprise to anyone who reads this that I’m a trauma surgeon. Why am I a trauma surgeon? Because I love taking care of people in need.
There is almost no one more needy than someone who is having a normal day and then something awful happens. They were in a car crash; they fell off a roof; they fell off their bike; or, God forbid, they got shot. Trauma patients need help. I guess you could look at my job as someone who repairs injuries and protects patients from further harm.
The President of the United States takes an oath to protect the American people. I understand that on the one hand, such a broad promise to protect all Americans can never be kept. Right now, as I’m typing this, someone is downing a drink and is getting ready to drive—and putting themselves and others in harm’s way. Somewhere else an angry husband is threatening his wife, and a child is about to run out into the street into the path of an oncoming car.
So, we can have unrealistic expectations of what our presidents can do. Yet, when a pandemic comes, we expect our president to do everything in his/her power to protect us from whatever this evil is. We expect them to mobilize the resources of the federal government. We expect that personal protective equipment will be available to all medical personnel. We expect that patients who require medications to save their lives will get them.
Unfortunately, under President Donald Trump, none of this happened. Hospitals have run out of shoe covers, operating room caps, and the all-important N-95 masks. Some hospitals even ran out of ventilators. The president’s son-in-law even refused to distribute some equipment where it was needed, saying “It’s ours.” And Americans died.
Just the other day, the Wall Street Journal covered a New Jersey nursing home, Menlo Park, in which 101 nursing home residents died from Covid19. Residents were not encouraged to wear masks. The nursing home did not isolate infected patients from those who were not infected. Nor did they encourage (much less enforce) social distancing.
This nursing home was, in my opinion, incompetent. This nursing home was reckless. And more than 100 nursing home residents died because of this recklessness.
Yet, sadly, we have seen this exact same behavior from our president. He is having rallies (which is not safe). He is having announcement parties at the White House with over 500 guests (which is also not safe). He is not wearing a mask. He does not encourage others to wear masks. There is no social distancing. So, the fact that the White House became a “super spreader” location should come as no surprise to anyone.
Donald Trump and the White House have ignored medical advice. Over 20 people, including the First Lady, Senior Advisor Stephen Miller, two or three GOP senators (including North Carolina’s Thom Tillis), the White House press secretary, former advisor Kellyanne Conway, and former NJ Governor Chris Christie have all tested positive for the coronavirus.
Donald Trump has given progressives ample reasons for us not to support him and his reelection. He pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accords. He pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal which was working. He did his best to destabilize NATO, comprising our closest allies, while aligning us with our deadliest rival, Russia.
Trump pulled us out of NAFTA, only to rewrite a deal that looked almost exactly like NAFTA. He started a trade war with China with no stated objective and hurt American farmers with trade policy—and then used taxpayer money to keep those famers from blaming him. Furthermore, Trump is openly a racist and a sexist. I think that he is also a rapist—and there’s ample evidence that he’s a crook, a tax-cheat, and a money-launderer. Progressives have a lot of reasons to vote for anyone who is not Trump.
The beauty of Donald Trump’s response to his own Covid 19 infection underscores his own irresponsible recklessness.
First, Trump checks himself into Walter Reed Medical Center; two days later, while still a patient, he decides to go for a ride in the presidential limousine around the hospital. He is an infected patient who has the coronavirus. He exposes his own Secret Service detail to the coronavirus, for what? So that he could wave his supporters as he drove around the hospital!
This thoughtless act is unforgivable. These men are sworn to take a bullet for the president, to protect his life; but now he’s the one shooting viral bullets at them!
Shortly after he left the hospital, Trump tweeted that we should not let the coronavirus dominate our lives. When I read this, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Seriously. The coronavirus has changed how we (I) take care of patients. We are all walking around the hospital with face masks and goggles on in order to protect ourselves, because we can’t be sure whether our patients have the coronavirus or not. We have emergency room physicians wearing these spacesuits with their own air supply simply in order to try to keep themselves safe, so they can make you better.
Here’s how our president kept the coronavirus from dominating his life. As soon as he was diagnosed, he was given an infusion of an experimental monoclonal antibody which reportedly cost about $100,000. Does it work? Who knows? He was also given an antiviral medication which costs somewhere around $10,000 per dose. He is getting access to care neither you nor I can get or afford … and it’s all at taxpayer expense. (Not that he’s a taxpayer himself: according to the NY Times, this self-styled billionaire paid only $750 a year in income taxes in 2016 and 2017.)
Yet, he is telling us that we really shouldn’t worry about the coronavirus. Trump cares about himself. He does not care about you or me.
People in the White House have gotten sick because Donald Trump did not believe in the virus. Think about that for a second. Trump did not believe in the virus. This is the level of our discussions now—whether science is real or not. It is insane. I have had friends who died of the Covid19.
The virus is real whether Trump believes in it or not. Over 213,00 Americans have died. Please let that number sink in for a second. In a “normal” year about 40,000 Americans die of firearm injuries and another 40,000 die from car crashes. Coronavirus has killed 2.5 times that number of Americans in just over six months. Think about that.
For another comparison, we lost 59,297 soldiers in Vietnam; 36,914 in Korea; and in World War I, we lost 36,914 soldiers to combat plus another 63,114 to disease (mainly the 1918 flu epidemic). Our involvement in those wars—about 18 years altogether—caused 212,727 deaths, almost exactly the same number of Covid-19 deaths in the United States in less than one year. Unfortunately, under the Trump administration, our nation has not gone to war with the coronavirus: we’ve declared unconditional surrender.
Do not hold your nose. This is not that election. Sometimes we are asked to hold our noses and vote for someone who is less offensive than the GOP candidate. Biden is a good man. Look no further than his friendship with and loyalty to Barack Obama.
Biden took on Obama’s agenda and went to bat for Barack. He fought to win the votes for ObamaCare. He is a good man who believes in an honest wage for an honest day’s work, and for men and women to get the same pay for the same day’s work. He wants to clean up the environment so we can breathe. He wants justice, and he believes in diversity.
Under Biden, we will see social justice reform led by VP Kamala Harris, who knows the justice system as well as anyone on Capitol Hill. Biden will crush Covid-19 and pass a stimulus bill to get our economy back on track. He will fix our broken immigration system—with no kids in cages. He will expand the Supreme Court, restore the Voting Rights Act, and end Citizen’s United.
The American people will always be more important than any corporation to a Biden administration. He will stand up to Putin. Most importantly, he will make you proud because he supports the American ideals of justice and freedom for all.
If someone says, “Why should I bother to vote? It won’t make any difference,” or asks you “What’s at stake if I stay home?” answer them: Everything. Every. Thing. Every single thing you value in this world.
Please do not fall for nonsense or craziness—or disinformation and lies from people who do not want you to vote, and don’t want your vote to count if you do.
Make sure you have a plan. You need a plan to vote. You need to have a plan to vote with your friends and colleagues—in person if possible, by early voting, or absentee.
If you have friends who are American citizens 18 or over and who have registered to vote, take them to the polls. If they’re not registered, they can register and vote at the same time at one-stop sites during NC Early Voting, right up to Saturday, October 31, 2020. Take yourself, and take everyone who needs a ride to the polls.
If we all vote, progressives win and win big. So please make sure you are registered. Know where your polling place is. Vote early. If you can’t go vote in person, get your absentee ballot right away, fill it out, have it witnessed and signed, and drop it off at the Board of Elections office (in Asheville that’s at 77 Choctaw Street).
I’m going to vote in person. I’m going to mask up and vote. I want you to do the same, in whatever way is safest, most efficient, and most secure for you.
I want Trump to beat his Covid-19 infection. I want to see him lose, and lose big. I want him to see our landslide victory. I want him to whine about tens of millions of votes. I want him to cry out for fairness and justice as he is led out of the White House by the Secret Service.
Then I want to see what happens when the New York State Attorney General unseals the records of his family’s shenanigans. I want to see him pay the consequences. By the way, how a billionaire “genius” only paid $750 in federal taxes for a whole year.
Vote and we can end this nightmare. Vote and the daily chaos will end. Let’s do this!!!