I have been pondering for some time why I fail to see any humour in all things Donald Trump. After all, he’s pretty much the easiest target for a laugh. I, for one, am all for using humour to get ourselves through tough times. Anyone who knows me has heard me say, “I laugh because if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry.” Using humour doesn’t necessarily mean we aren’t taking serious situations seriously. It’s a coping mechanism. And these days, we need laughter more than ever. So why can’t I laugh at Donald Trump? His nonsensical ramblings. His ineptitude. His hair. Sometimes it seems like he’s setting himself up for it – and many people take that opportunity. I get it. If we don’t laugh, we’ll cry.
But – I just can’t laugh.
Trump is not a meme. He’s not a joke, a clown, or our source of entertainment. He’s a killer.
I’m not an expert in American politics (nor am I American), but I know that you’d be hard pressed to find an American president (among many national leaders) who doesn’t have blood on their hands. War, poverty, capital punishment – there are many situations in which a president’s decisions, indecisions, actions, and inactions, lead to lost lives – both domestic and international. All valuable. Trump is no different.
Adding to his body count, Trump is now in charge of leading the US through the global COVID-19 pandemic. And he has already failed. Miserably.
While astounding numbers of people were falling ill and dying around the globe, Trump did nothing to prepare. From an initial claim that the coronavirus was a democratic hoax to his unscientific strategy to simply wait for divine intervention to promoting dangerous treatments unsanctioned by the F.D.A, Trump’s ineptitude and egocentricity is going to cost lives – hundreds of thousands of lives.
If that doesn’t sting enough, there’s more. Whose lives will be lost? First, we’re talking about Americans. This is not to say that Americans are more deserving or preferential than anyone else; they’re not. I emphasize this point because it is Americans that Donald Trump was elected to serve and protect. It’s his job. And now in addition to increasing rates of civilian deaths in foreign countries, he’s bringing his terrorism home; he’s killing his own people.
Which Americans will die? We know that the virus impacts the elderly and the immune-compromised most adversely. So, who else? Due to the expensive, inefficient, and underperforming healthcare system in the US, it is likely that those without insurance will also suffer disproportionately as they fail to receive the treatment and care that they need. A teenage boy has already died because a hospital refused to treat him due to lack of insurance.
This leads me to ask, who is most likely to go without health insurance? The poor, the disenfranchised, the unemployed, the underemployed, the underpaid, those with preexisting health conditions, the elderly, and those who may not qualify due to citizenship or immigration status.
I watched a documentary film, Outside the Bubble: On the Road with Alexandra Pelosi, in which Pelosi interviewed Trump supporters across the country to try to learn more about them and what influenced their decision. The resounding feedback from this particular collection of voters was in essence, this:
Our industries are failing, our jobs are disappearing, our town is vacant, and we’re being left behind. We are poor, we are hungry, we are valuable, and we are being pushed aside and forgotten about. We can’t live like this anymore and if there isn’t drastic change, we’re afraid of what business-as-usual will mean for us. This is life or death. We’re desperate.
For these particular voters, Trump was a Hail Mary. A risk that seemed worth taking because how could things get any worse?
I can’t help but draw a clear line between the descriptions of these particular Trump voters from the film and those determined to be at greatest risk of dying from Trump’s poor leadership. Will it be the same Americans who desperately put their fate in Trump’s hands in hope of change that will suffer the most casualties?
Trump is not a meme, he’s a killer – and he may be burying those who needed him most in mass graves come spring.