Monday, September 14, 2020

From Covid to Climate How Trump Has Made Everything Worse

U.S. president Donald Trump has failed to manage both the cornavirus and the climate crisis. He initially dismissed both issues as a hoax, then he downplayed the virus. As we now know, he knew the truth but he hid it from the American public for the sake of political gain. Trump has politicized science and silenced scientists. This is a man who is at war with science and fact based journalism because they threaten his false narratives.

He has tried to hide his own government's climate report because it contradicts his lies.  His entire administration is overtly anti-science and over the last few years Trump has all but declared war on science. He has made it abundantly clear that he is not interested in science-based policy. One of the many examples of Trump's attempt to manipulate the facts took place in 2019 when he lied about Hurricane Dorian. Even more concerning is the fact that he demanded government scientific bodies support his politically motivated deception.  He pressured NOAA to back his misstatements the same way he has pushed the CDC and the FDA to accommodate his false COVID narratives. These are lies are not without consequence, they cost lives.

He wades into ever worsening disasters with all the sensitivity of a wrecking ball. He has blamed the victims for California's devastating wildfires and he exercised his characteristic insensitivity in Puerto Rico after the island territory was destroyed by two major hurricanes.  In his response to natural disasters Trump has demonstrated that he is not capable of expressing empathy.
His assaults on wildlife are part of what can only be described as a war on nature. Trump's utter lack of leadership is clear in all the ways he has exacerbated climate change. His policies have exacerbated the conditions that make storms and wildfires worse  just as surely as his mismanagement of the coronavirus has killed countless Americans. According to a Columbia University study, his failure to act contributed to 36,000 additional deaths as of May. By the end of the year it is expected that there will be more 400,000 American casualties. 

During his time in office he has censored intelligence that contradicts his disinformation. Most recently he forced the Department of Homeland Security to downplay the facts to serve his political agenda. This includes minimizing the threat posed by white supremacists and covering up for Russia.  He has maligned allies and embraced despots. This is especially true of Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Ill and Jair Bolsanaro.

Trump has failed to respond to both climate change and the pandemic and both of these threats disproportionately harm people of color. He feeds the systemic racism and calls neo-nazis and white supremacists "fine people". He sews division and undermines the institutions and alliances that have served America's democracy for much of the nation's recent history.

This is a president who uses the pandemic to funnel taxpayers dollars to his family and friends, This is a president who has exacerbated inequality by reducing taxes on the wealthiest Americans while amassing a massive debt. This is a man who calls peaceful protestors terrorists. This is a president that is engaging in overt acts of voter suppression. This is a president who lies almost every time he opens his mouth. This is a president who subscribes to bizarre conspiracy theories.

Although he is bleeding support from many quarters, the core that make up his base appear to be unmovable no matter how outrageous his conduct. Long before Trump called America's injured or fallen service men and women "suckers" and "losers" he bragged about assaulting women saying he just grabs 'em by the pussy. A month after that tape went public he was elected president.

However, his lying about the threat posed by the coronavirus and his attempt to cover up with more lies may not be so easily overlooked. While many in Trump's base seem to relish the president's derogatory putdowns, some MAGA supporters may not like the fact that this time they are the ones being played for suckers, and they are the losers who due to the dishonesty of their president, risk losing their lives.

Trump knew that the virus was deadly but he publicly dismissed it as a hoax. Recorded interviews Trump did with Bob Woodward reveal that Trump knew in February that COVID-19 is deadly even though he has consistently lied about the seriousness of the threat. Even before he confessed to Woodward it was clear that Trump had been repeatedly warned.

Despite the warnings and his own admissions Trump continues to hold in person rallies and he refueses to advocate social distancing and mask wearing (he has even mocks those who follow CDC guidelines).  As reviewed in Woodward's new book "Rage" here are three separate occasions when Trump lied about the pandemic.

On February 7, Trump told Woodward that the coronavirus is more deadly than the flu. However, at a press briefing on February 26 he said that mortality rates are higher for the flu than coronavirus. On March 19 Trump told Woodward that the virus does not only affect older people. Trump then went on to repeatedly state that it was predominantly the elderly who had to worry. Trump has repeatedly claimed that children aren't affected and are "almost immune" to the virus. On April 5, Trump told Woodward the virus is "horrible" and "unbelievable". Yet at an April 3 coronavirus press briefing, he confidently and definitively claimed the virus was "going away" just like he'd promised months before.

He told Woodward that even though he knew the truth he "downplayed the virus" because he did not want people to panic. This is out of character for Trump given that inciting fear and encouraging panic is his core strategy dating back to 2016 and he has doubled down on this strategy in 2020.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the president has blood on his hands. His refusal to ramp-up testing, encourage people to socially distance and wear masks has contributed to the highest number of deaths of any nation on Earth. The advice he has offered on the virus has only compounded the problem. He has urged Americans to drink bleach or take hydroxychloriquine. Trump has also exacerbated the pandemic by killing environmental protections and increasing the extraction and burning of fossil fuels which adds to pollution and makes people more vulnerable to the virus.

Trump's base are used to his belligerent opposition to the facts, and his bellicose putdowns. However, the Woodward tapes reveal that he is prepared to sacrifice Americans, particularly the people that make up his base, to advance his political agenda.

We are on the cusp of the collapse of civilization and another four years with Trump as president will push us over the edge. The facts implore Americans to vote for an administration that embraces science. There is reason to believe that America has hit an inflection point. This is the last chance to reclaim democracy and vote for a leadership that will protect both people and the planet. Americans should be voting against Trump like their lives depended on it, because the fact is your life and the lives of future generations are in the balance.

We must act in the coming months if we are to have a chance of averting a climate catastrophe. Covid can be a paradigm changing tipping point but only if Trump is voted out of office in November. We must marshal the hope that we can change the current trajectory most importantly, all Americans must vote to protect their democracy from a narcissistic psychopath who will destroy the republic if given a second term.

Americans face a stark choice in 2020, they can either choose democracy, fact based policy and climate action or they can choose authoritarianism, white supremacy and the end of civilization as we know it. This is not hyperbole this is a fact. Apathy could mean the end of the republic and dash all hopes of averting a climate catastrophe. 

A Summary of Trump's Malfeasance and his Disastrous Presidency
Trump was a Nightmare in 2017 and Not Just for the Environment
The Pessimal Presidency of Donald Trump

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