I didn’t want to make this coronavirus a political issue. At least until it was over. But I noticed that every time Donald Trump speaks he makes sure to tell us what a great job he is doing as do his Fox News minions. He brags about how he gets all this free TV time. So this is a political issue, whether we like it or not. I didn’t make it political; Trump and his supporters did. I know some of my friends don’t want to hear me speak about Trump. But I will.
I have a confession to make. When Donald Trump got elected President of the United States in 2016 I was fearful. I did not panic, but I was scared. As President of the richest and most powerful country in the world, and our neighbour in Canada, the United States has a profound affect on Canada whether we like that or not. As is said, ‘When the U.S. coughs, Canada catches a cold.”
I was fearful that now the richest and most powerful country in the world was led by a man who was not very bright, but was narcissistic, shallow, bombastic, full of bluster, unaccustomed to modesty or humility, petulant, possessed as much empathy as a turnip, lacked basic curiosity, had not a jot of appreciation for the truth, ignored evidence and data, and in making important decisions relied on hunches, feelings, and instincts instead of critical thinking. And those were his best points!
American voters handed such a man the power to bring peace to the world or to annihilate it, and to save or wreck the world economic order. And he could do that more or less alone without significant foresight or oversight. The adults in the room who might restrain him, like Rex Tillerson or John Kelly, remember them, have long gone. I worried what would happen when we had the next financial crisis? I had admired President Obama and liked his strong support of solid thinkers in most areas of his cabinet. Trump had no such support.
Now in 2020 we have both a major economic crisis (and maybe soon, if not already, a financial crisis) and a major health crisis at the same time! This is not just a time for all hands on deck as the pundits and politicians keep saying. This is also a time for all minds on deck. And I fear—I deeply fear—that we don’t have that. At best we have mediocre minds on deck with some wonderful exceptions like Dr. Anthony Fauci, who does not hesitate to contradict the President.
A Crisis like this requires the best minds with the best data and the best advice. Do we have that? I think not. We have a mediocre mind (or less) at the helm. And he seems to be getting most of his advice from right-wing television pundits who seem to have, like their leader, distrust for science and experts when we urgently need both and have a taste for lies and untruth joined to loud bombast. These are scary times.
Frankly, this scares me.