By: Carly Boies
Trump is a dangerous president at the best of times. In the past three years he has made error after blundering error. These had an effect, but it was nothing drastic enough to be irreversible. But now the Trump administration faces a global pandemic. COVID-19 has shut down the world for the past seven months. The United States has had the most deaths worldwide, and with the premature reopening of the U.S. another rise in cases can be seen in many states. We are on the brink of repeating the pandemic, and we are still just as helpless.
Last spring we all watched COVID-19 spread from country to country. Everyone knew it was coming to the United States. Being a virus that is contagious weeks before symptoms actually appear, coronavirus proved impossible to control. Those last few weeks before school closed were like bracing for a storm. Everyone was holding their collective breath, waiting to see what would happen.
And what did happen was the state governments, pushed to wait to order stay-at-home orders by the federal government and the President, did not act fast enough. An incompetent president ignored the science and logic he should have employed and downplayed the danger we were all in, and we continue to pay the price.
When it comes to the Trump administration, these behavioral patterns are not new. Take climate change, for example. Climate change is a global threat, much like COVID-19 but more long term and harder to reverse. The United States has taken the back seat in a solution. According to Statista, the United States produced 5.13 billion metric tons of carbon pollution in 2019, about fourteen percent of global emissions that year. The population of the U.S. makes up about four percent of the world’s people.
Now more than ever, it is crucial that we make changes in our lifestyles to better support our planet. However, there is only so much we as individuals can do. The government has to use its power to create a national shift in perspective and lifestyle. Instead of pursuing a positive response, though, we see the President and the White House crawl into its shell. Afraid of change, afraid of personal sacrifice and too selfish to make the necessary changes, Trump has instead chosen to pretend climate change does not exist.
According to National Geographic, the Trump administration has cut funding out from under the Environmental Protection Agency , inhibiting their ability to regulate the effects the United States has on the climate. The Trump administration has also rolled back laws around gas and oil, allowing drilling and pipeline construction to begin in previously protected parts of the U.S. Over the three years he has been in office, the president has blocked, withdrawn from, and removed regulations and laws around clean air and water, undoing many of the environmental gains made by previous presidents. Instead of striving for a cleaner world, the United States has seen a major back slide in environmental protections since 2016.
Now, after three years of incompetence, we see Trump’s unprofessional and dangerous response to the coronavirus. After the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the U.S., Trump said in an interview with CNBC that he had no worries about the virus: “We have it totally under control…It’s going to be fine.” he claimed. In that same interview, he said that the United States and China had signed a deal that would avoid any shortages in PPE.
At a rally in South Carolina, Trump began to write COVID-19 off as a Democratic hoax, saying that “the Democrat policy of open borders is a direct threat to the health and well being of all Americans”. As the states began to shut down, Trump spoke of his optimism for the future and conviction that the virus would disappear.
In the next few months, the United States saw the highest number of cases and deaths of any country in the world. Trump delayed necessary action until it was too late. Hospitals, left without Personal Protective Equipment and struggling with shortages of masks, gowns, gloves, and respirators stemming from the lockdowns in China, turned into war zones. New York was left to struggle with an immense spike of cases, over 11,000 in one day at the height of the pandemic, and Trump turned a blind eye because of the concentration of democratic support from the city.
Trump openly supported protests against the shelter-in-place orders. He refused to wear a mask until one of the members of his staff tested positive for COVID-19. Trump again and again displayed his support of unsafe policies, and now we are still in partial lockdown eight months after the first confirmed case in the U.S. The shortage of PPE is a problem medical professionals face every day. We are still not prepared for this pandemic, and by now many other countries are almost through it.
The coronavirus is a warning to us all. We have to listen to science. We have to listen to the people telling us things we do not want to hear. This pandemic shows just how bad our lives and this country can get when we do not look at the facts and make informed and difficult decisions. The United States made a lot of mistakes when it came to COVID-19. Every step of the way, the government ignored the obvious threats and took the easy way out. If we treat global warming the same way, we will get the same results. There is still time to fix global warming. We can still turn the environmental destruction around, if, and only if,the government commits to making long term sacrifices and investments instead of turning a blind eye to science and reason.
The government has failed to do the right thing at a time when we needed them most. The United States must be a country willing to listen to facts if we are ever going to get past COVID-19 or beat global warming. That is why Trump is so dangerous. Him and the rest of the federal government would rather take evasive and detrimental action than work to fix our situation. That is why we are now stuck at home, working from computers and watching one another behind masks and across a six-foot gulf. And this is why, in the future, we all have to be more thoughtful, more careful and more willing to listen when smart people tell us we have to make a change to keep ourselves and others safe.