COVID-45: How the GOP Politicized Public Health

Photo by visuals on Unsplash

The public health crisis that should’ve united the country against a common enemy has instead revealed the faults and polarization which continue unimpeded in this current political climate.

The response to the coronavirus pandemic across the board has not been perfect, with mistakes being made locally and statewide by both parties. But it is the continuation of failure in the face of new evidence and guidelines that came out of the initial mistakes, such as Governor Brian Kemp (R-Georgia) banning localities from mandating face masks, that warrants outcry and condemnation. It is important to highlight this grim reality within the GOP and many of the elected officials that are numbered in their ranks.

Politicians have fumbled in addressing COVID-19, and it has become increasingly clear that the GOP, under the banner of President Donald Trump and his new brand of “Know-Nothing”-ism, have buried their heads in the sand at his behest. Throwing their citizens under the bus to appease the man who can ruin their political prospects with a few tweets, they have drank the proverbial “Kool-Aid” of Trumpism and rejected common-sense policy, as well as the advice of experts. These lawmakers have shown that the purported morals of the “Grand Old Party” are secondary to the continuation of their careers.

Trump is an irrational and apathetic leader, traits that have become unmistakable through four years of unjust actions and decisions. He has perpetually abandoned his duty to protect America from threats foreign and domestic, including, in this case, COVID-19.

From its onset in March, the federal response was milquetoast and impotent, downplaying the severity of the disease even as it ravaged China and later Italy. As the disease made its way to the U.S. and began spreading rapidly, the president refused to acknowledge his early mistakes and would soon shift the blame to everyone besides himself, despite his early, non-scientific-backed claims that the virus would “disappear” one day “like a miracle.”

Trump ignored the guidelines recommended by his own administration, opting instead to hold a rally in Tulsa, Okl., which directly resulted in an increase of infections. He refused up until recently to don a mask due to self-admitted vanity, claiming it “would send the wrong message.” This is far beyond a Nero fiddling moment, as many within the Republican party have chosen to join in the orchestra.

The wearing of masks, due to the President’s actions and the party’s refusal to hold him accountable, is often perceived as a political statement. More than 143,000 Americans have died due to the fumbling of the federal government, and resurgences of cases have already occurred in states mainly run and controlled by Republicans, who refuse to listen to the experts and fear of reprisal from their “boss.” Trump has chosen to smear Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading expert on infectious diseases because the apolitical information he provides has not sat well with Trump’s engineered reality.

It is disgusting that the president has been allowed to turn this pandemic, the necessary actions to contain it, as well as expert advice on handling it, into a political quagmire of anti-science rhetoric and policy.

To emphasize again, Republicans are not solely responsible for mistakes made during the course of the pandemic — the growing case numbers in California serves as an obvious example. However, the head of the GOP, President Trump, has irrefutably politicized this tragedy and caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands in the process.

Should he continue to face no pushback from his party and their voters, partisanship will spread unhindered, much like the disease it is currently emboldening.

Former Democratic candidate for NYS Assembly District 8, current agitator and writer.