July 8, 2020 529 PM
We’re a nation shaking our heads in disbelief and our fists at strangers. We’re at each other’s throats in families, among friends and on social media. The European Union has reopened but won’t allow Americans to enter.
How did it come to this? How is it an American administration and numerous Republican state governors crossed an unconscionable line from unmitigated arrogance into elements of criminal culpability for the needless COVID-19 deaths and injuries to thousands of their fellow citizens?
Along with the heads of state, are those spreading disinformation and outright lies about COVID-19 criminally liable? Arguably, yes, although admittedly, finding guilt is a difficult undertaking. There have been criminal convictions of individuals with AIDS for knowingly having unprotected sex – but failing to communicate that essential fact before intercourse – whose partners subsequently contracted the disease.
The culpable behavior is that of “recklessness,” a more serious form of mens rea (Latin for a “guilty mind” when committing a crime) than negligence. The gist of recklessness is awareness of the risk (of contracting COVID-19 and/or of infection/illness/death and all the associated hardships) but consciously disregarding that risk.
Where we are right now isn’t a matter of bad luck; it’s due to a gross failure of presidential leadership. Trump failed to engage Federal Emergency Management Agency powers and hobbled the CDC.
Responsibility was sloughed-off to the states, who were incapable of bringing to bear federal resources. Republican governors (but for Ohio’s Mike DeWine who stood up to Trump, acting quickly and aggressively against the virus) replicated Trump’s shifting positions and misbehavior.
States re-opened though rates of infection were still rising! Gov. Abbott punted to local governments, yet undermined them over their requirements of masks and closures.
The payoff is that COVID-19’s deadly spikes have also affected the hard-to-convince deniers, including church pastors and those drawing attention to themselves by flat-out refusing to wear a mask in public or engage in social distancing.
Herman Cain, a former GOP candidate for president, came down with COVID-19 less than two weeks after attending Trump’s Tulsa rally. So did Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend. Forced by an aggressive disease, the president’s inner circle is now ensnared by what – a hoax?
Even Texas Governor Greg Abbott eventually signed an emergency declaration requiring wearing a mask in public. After months of being held hostage by concerns about repercussions from Trump’s base, circumstances forced him to reverse his disproven positions’ rhetoric.
Is there even one profile in courage among recalcitrant GOP governors and congressional delegates? The train left the station with COVID-19 at the throttle, picking up speed. We’re only now playing catch-up, after squandering months of valuable, life-saving time.
Consider the lack of credibility of policy makers whose recklessness brought us to this point: it’s been frustrated by conspiracy theories conditioning people to not believe that we’re in the middle of anything but an over-hyped hoax.
So, how did it come to this? Consider what possible benefit to the greater good a conservative political philosophy is when more people have been harmed than helped?
Please understand, I am not doing handstands, leading the “I told you so choir” over anyone’s protracted suffering and/or succumbing. For almost half a year, the warnings have been inescapable in every day’s news, blaring louder and brighter than Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
Yes, it has been very difficult for most people and businesses. Taking practical, common sense measures is a thinner line separating health from illness and death than a surveyor’s imaginary boundary drawn on a map between states and local governments. Culpability on that front is the subject of another article dealing with the conservative’s world view and resultant economic ramifications with social policies.
What will it take for a GOP governor or congressperson (but for Gov. DeWine) to offer a sincere mea culpa? “I was dead wrong about everything connected with this mess of my own making? I have learned the hard way. Please forgive me. We’ll turn this around together with the best public health expert information available!”
Meanwhile, Trump is back to square one, denying and lying with his familiar, uninformed assessment: “It will disappear,” he hopes! In what world would that be? The one entered through a magic elixir of fairy and adderall dust?
What will it take for Trump’s faithful base to stop knee-jerkingly saying “fake-news”? How many casualties among freedom-loving believers possessed of a deep, abiding evangelical faith will it take to consider what’s going on here? To that segment of his base:
“Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities.” (Romans 13:1)
The Divine’s spiritual laws are as important to abide by as those of Caesar’s; regardless of the depth of one’s religious faith and the power of God to protect. Consider what Jesus said in the middle of his major life-threatening crisis: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’” (Matthew 22:21)
Let us heal our emotional, spiritual and political wounds together. Amen: for listening closely, observing and learning from both the successes and failures of others. We’re all in this together!