Letter to the editor written by PPDC board member Steve Cron
in response to Elle Feldman’s letter in the 3/26 issue of the Palisadian-Post
Dear Ms. Feldman,
I agree that we’re all facing an ominous enemy in the Coronavirus, and that we all need to stand together and find our common ground. If you had ended your letter to the editor after the first few paragraphs, I would have wholeheartedly agreed with you. But, you had to politicize your call for community action by praising Donald Trump’s leadership, and therefore, once again, I feel compelled to respond.
You say that Trump “is leading the charge.” If leading the charge means ignoring all scientific input from January until last week, then you’re right. Instead of heeding the call from public health officials for equipment and medical preparation at the early stages of this pandemic, Trump “led” us by doing nothing for two months, other than claiming that those who raised concerns about his cuts to emergency preparedness were perpetrating a hoax.
In early January, when real American leaders were calling for the federal government to produce new medical and safety equipment, Trump praised his
“perfect” do-nothing response to the pandemic and said it would all be gone by April when the warm weather arrives. Well, April is here and the coronavirus isn’t gone, in fact, it’s getting exponentially more deadly every day. In fact, we recently achieved the ignominious honor of having more confirmed Coronavirus cases than any other country in the world.
Rather than inspiring the nation to stand together against a hostile enemy and mandating that his Administration prepare for the upcoming pandemic, in late January, he resorted to his now familiar tactics of bluster and obfuscation by claiming “We have it totally under control….It’s going to be just fine.” For the last two months, Trump should have had the nation preparing for a pandemic that was clearly on the horizon for everyone but your dear “leader.” Instead, governors and mayors across the country have had to plead with the Trump administration to procure and disperse more test kits, protective equipment and ventilators.
In late March, when Trump finally, thankfully, seemed to be taking the Coronavirus seriously, he told Mike Pence not to provide medical supplies to Democratic governors in Washington and Michigan, because they weren’t sufficiently appreciative. Even in the midst of a national crisis, rather than acting as leader of our entire nation, he resorted to his familiar tactics of trying to divide Americans, and use every opportunity to punish and vilify anyone who disagrees with him.
Now, months after the Coronavirus first surfaced, in the United States there were a record 3.3 million new unemployment claims in March, a $2.2 trillion stimulus package passed in order to prop up the American economy, over one hundred thousand Americans have been infected, and over 2,000 have died, and the stock market is down 25%. No one blames Trump for the advent of the Coronavirus, but we sure can blame him for his failure to pay attention to doctors and scientists instead of his own instincts and wishful thinking. There is no doubt that if he had led us to prepare for this pandemic in a timely fashion, all of our losses would have been dramatically lower.
South Korea and Taiwan serve as timely examples of how real leaders led their countries. Instead of boasting about how great everything was, and ignoring the opinions of countless public health officials, they based their actions on science, data, and facts, not bluster and braggadocio. In early January, they started testing virtually everyone, ramped up the production of ventilators and protective equipment, and built hospitals in anticipation of the Coronavirus. As a result, the pandemic passed over South Korea and Taiwan with very little loss of life, and minimal impact on their economy. Trump didn’t have to be an innovative or dynamic leader. All he had to do was put aside his ego, and follow the South Korean and Taiwanese models that were plainly working. But our “wise” leader always thinks he knows what’s best, notwithstanding all the evidence to the contrary.
For my whole life, up until three years ago, I proudly knew that the United States was always willing and able to help other countries when they experienced disasters. Now, because of Trump’s failed leadership, we have to ask other countries to help us by loaning or selling us the equipment that we don’t have. If Trump had not totally dismantled the White House pandemic response team in 2018, and if he had not been so hell-bent on praising himself instead of taking action, we would be better prepared to help our own people, rather than going hat in hand to other countries whose leadership helped them to get ready for this catastrophe.
Real leaders lead. They don’t close their eyes and ears to information which they find unpleasant or not in keeping with their inflated egos. Donald Trump is not “leading the charge.” He is following from behind, and now trying desperately to make excuses for his own lack of leadership when the country needed, and needs, him the most.