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Friday, March 20, 2020

Even the Coronavirus Can’t Avoid the Partisan Divide

Pres. Trump appearing at a meeting at the CDC donning his campaign cap

Our politics are so divisive that even the coronavirus pandemic, which has no political allegiance, can’t be viewed through a non-partisan lens. From the outset, President Trump has shifted his interpretation of the effects of covid-19 from near denial of a problem to a “wartime” footing.
During this unsettling process, in which the financial markets have reacted viciously against the uncertainty of the economic impact mixed with the often contradictory messaging from the White House and medical experts tasked with mitigating the pandemic, people who are Republicans and those who are Democrats differ markedly in their perception.

According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll taken between March 11 and 13 (noting attitudes may have shifted since), the following findings appear:

Worried that someone in your immediate family with catch the coronavirus?
All voters: 53 percent
Urban Dems: 70 percent
Suburban Dems: 68 percent
Rural Dems: 65 percent
Urban GOPers: 44 percent
Suburban GOPers: 37 percent
Rural GOPers: 41 percent

Stop attending large public gatherings?
All voters: 47 percent
Urban Dems: 59 percent
Suburban Dems: 63 percent
Rural Dems: 59 percent

Amazingly, there are plenty of deniers still out there fueled by commentary on FOX News at the beginning and by the president himself who at his rally in South Carolina on February 28 called the situation “the Democrats’ new hoax.”

According to the Washington Post on Instagram:
Even as President Trump has asked Americans to stay at home and has called on the nation to come together to fight the “invisible enemy” known as covid-19, virus doubters persist. They call reports of more than 200,000 sickened and 9,000 dead worldwide a sham. Republican legislators have continued to brag about their dinners out, some beaches remain packed with spring breakers and Hollywood starlet Vanessa Hudgens was forced to apologize for complaining on Instagram that “people are going to die, which is terrible, but like, inevitable?” 

Virus deniers vow to continue on with their daily activities with little adjustment, convinced that the unprecedented reaction to the virus is nothing more than a plot by the media or liberals out to get Trump. The Pew Research Center released a poll Wednesday that found that 62 percent of adults say the media is exaggerating the risk of the virus.

The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll referenced above seems to suggest that these deniers are more likely to be Republicans.  #Hocopolitics

Anecdotally, Trump supporters see this as another attempt by Democrats and the media to make

Trump look bad after the Mueller Report and the impeachment trial failed to lower the president’s approval numbers. I have heard this from Trump supporters that the coronavirus is exaggerated to drop Trump’s numbers.
As the markets tank to a level that existed before Trump took office and that the economy will undoubtedly slide into a recession, Trump’s main re-election campaign arguments have gone down the drain.  But Trump is doing this to himself.  The stock market dives with every lie, contradiction and factual error he spews from the White House briefing room adding to the already built-in medical uncertainty of this new virus.

Though Republicans and the president himself have called for unity and non-partisanship (meaning no criticism of the president), it must be pointed out that Trump attended a CDC meeting two weeks ago sporting his familiar red campaign cap.  That alone undermines his plea for nonpartisanship; there is no justification to wear that cap at such an event.

Plus he made comments, such as the stock market will rebound in time (for the election, he implied); and cruise ship passengers should not be allowed to return to the U.S. because he didn't want the number of cases to rise; or consciously calling it the "China virus."

People have the right to criticize the handling of the crisis; perhaps and hopefully, it would be taken more seriously. It was reported, for instance, that one of the FOX News commentators urged Trump to take it more seriously lest there will be political hell to pay.

Here is the problem: If we cannot get 100 percent on board to see this as a major health crisis and stop worrying how this will affect the November elections, the results could be catastrophic. This is not the time for bravado and machismo as we often see when the tough guys speed on snowy roads or do other stupid stuff.

To amplify this point, there is the viral clip of the doophus on spring break with the backward cap saying, "If I get Corona I get corona. At the end of the day, I won't let this keep me from partying." How selfish is that?

Even as our local officials take strong actions and we comply by taking the necessary precautions, the deniers are putting all of us in danger with their cavalier, selfish and careless behavior.  This is not political pandemic but it sure feels like one.


UPDATE:  On March 27 President Trump signed into law a $2 trillion stimulus package that was passed in a bipartisan manner. to provide relief to those businesses and individuals affected by the coronavirus pandemic.  Despite the bipartisan passage of the bill in Congress, the White House purposely excluded Democrats from the signing ceremony.  And Republicans accuse the Democrats of politicizing the coronavirus crisis!

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