Successful leadership in a crisis requires trust and steady fact-based decisions. Trump was completely unstable at the best of times, and he had zero trust from anyone who pays attention.
After leadership, you have the logistics of handling a crisis. It’s not that difficult. You simply learn what steps are necessary, what materials needed, and you do the work. A computer could have done it, but not the Trump administration.
A computer would have taken input that said, “Need masks. Need ventilators. Need other PPE.” It would have put out requests to the proper channels to find out availability and begun the wheels of industry a-turnin’. It would have called for shutdowns and distancing. A computer.
The hard part of logistics in a crisis comes from the bad news. Trying to keep people going through it. Keeping focused. The decisions should be self-evident. You get the ventilators. You get the PPE. You close the beaches. You prepare for recovery.
Not Trump. First it was “magically disappear.” Then came “hoax” and “flu” and automobile fatalities. Only now, after a month-plus of fucking around, they’re saying 100 000, if all the right cards are dealt. They had an entire, color-coded plan and they didn’t even look at it!
Which is the whole point: this has never been a serious administration. There’s no commitment to governing. There’s just the fucking around, the schtick. There was never going to be success. There wasn’t any ability or thought to attempt success from. They didn’t just ignore warnings, but treated the warnings with contempt. Warnings are for people who might actually give a shit, who want to do the right thing.
And we’ve seen it downballot, with several prominent Republicans now under investigation for cashing out stocks on the warnings while they didn’t lift a finger to stop the actual mess.
The nation has a choice that it always has, that we all have: do the right thing or suffer the consequences. Either this administration finds the ability to handle the pandemic, and the pandemic runs one course, or they don’t, and it runs a much more costly course.
But let’s be clear on that choice, just as we should be clear about the election in 30 weeks: the choice isn’t even close. The economy will do better if the pandemic is handled properly from here forward. The lives saved will be far greater if the right choices are made, based on science and boring old logistics that a computer can do.
To fail, you have to try. Trump is the don’t bother president. The un-president. The lazy sod that wants to take credit if only 100 000 of our brothers and sisters die. He’s not responsible, whatever happens, because he’s not leading. He’s only there because he was elected, not because there’s a job to be done. Whatever work the administration does is incidental to Trump, or is done to fluff his ego.
Sure, they go through these indecent motions to have him sign off on decisions, but he’s not in charge other than as an obstacle to the various administration factions doing what they want to do. They are required to thank the president, to appreciate him in public. That’s not appreciation, if you’re coerced. Doesn’t matter to Trump, as long as people believe he gets credit for work that he doesn’t even care about.
There are a lot of people sick and dying because of this president’s inability to do his job. There are a ton more trying to patch around him, to keep things working despite Trump. The Republicans in the Senate took this risk, they bet against the nation, when they failed to hold a real trial and failed to convict him for his high crimes. This country owes itself to do better than these jackals.
If Biden were president today, the nation would be far better prepared, on top of which there would be an effort to ensure broad insurance coverage. He would have made healthcare improvements instead of a giant tax giveaway for the rich, and he would be doubling down on healthcare now. Trump never put forward a plan, and the only reason that millions have healthcare at all today is that Senator McCain told Trump to go fuck himself when it mattered most.
Biden would have a national purchase coordinator for masks, gloves, and gowns, with a proper distribution system. The rapidly-depleting stockpile—meant to be a stopgap to distribute to states and localities while production ramps up during a crisis—would have been properly maintained and properly used to get us to full production, which under Trump we’re nowhere near. There would be a much stronger testing capability, so that we could know not just if a sick person has the virus, but if it’s spreading undetected. What we have is so piecemeal as to likely make the pandemic worse in places that are undertesting. What we have in Trump is someone who still denies problems that are clear as day! They’re trying to cobble together blindspot data from community surveys and internet-of-things thermometers.
Joe Biden is not only better, he’s a thousand times better. He will not be a perfect president, but he won’t be incompetent. That’s something to be excited about: waking up to an American presidency that actually cares. Someone who won’t make a very silly bet with tens of thousands of lives, that the virus would just vanish by yesterday. That’s a big fucking deal.
If Biden were president, we would be in a much better position, not waiting to hear how many needless deaths Trump will inflict on our nation through his complete failure to lead.
But there’s another side to be told here. Terminally underfunding the federal government and state governments means we’re always playing catch-up on critical functions. Taxes need to go up. We need to pay for the country we want. That’s more necessary for states, but it’s true for both. That kind of partnership (Trump likes to harp on NATO allies for not spending enough; if he were consistent he would have been saying, for years, that states need to raise their revenues) is what is needed to meet these trials.
There is so much work to be done, and sooner or later the naysayers in the GOP will have to get out of the way of progress, or we’ll keep seeing people die and we’ll keep seeing inadequate governance. Biden can work to push them toward realistic funding and changes, but there has to be internal change among Republicans. They must recognize that failing to pay for government is the same as failing to govern.