The Cowards Are Killing Us

Jan has perfectly captured what I–and maybe you–have been feeling since COVID-19 became a pandemic. 

By Jan Warrington

Let’s not mince words here: We are slowly drowning in a sea of bullshit, a sea of crazy coming from a cowardly administration that is trying desperately to minimize our awareness of the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. An administration that was slow to act, is terrified of the truth, terrified of the American people learning the truth of the devastation (read body count) that lies ahead.

If I’m lucky — and my loved ones and your loved ones are lucky — we’ll only drown figuratively, not in real life, not alone in an ICU, alone and gasping for air because some unused ventilators sit gathering dust in a warehouse in some distant state in, yes, my country — our country, the United States of America.

My rage — yes, rage and fury — is the culmination of days of watching President Donald J. Trump and his administration pretend and minimize, dawdle and minimize, blather and minimize. It comes from days of listening to Trump and his merry band of bobbleheaded gloaters, headed by Vice President Mike Pence. This merry band (not including you, Dr. Fauci) stands behind Trump on the podium and half-smiles and nods as if a new trade deal with China were being announced.

Remember one of those early briefings, just four weeks ago? Trump told the American people that the 15 virus cases would dwindle to zero. False. As of today, there are more than 101,242 cases, and 1,588 deaths in the US and its territories, according to CNN.

Zero? Can you tell that I’m angry?  

This is an extremely difficult and traumatic time for the American people, as well as people around the world. I am terrified. And I am angry because I feel helpless, powerless to help those I love, helpless to stop the spread of this hideous virus that is on a trajectory to decimate this country that I love. The spread may be beyond any one person’s control, but the president of the United States continues to this day to minimize and misinform. His refusal to act early on, refusal to take this pandemic seriously, contributes daily to my fear and fury.

Trump doesn’t seem to grasp that — like soap and water — truth-telling and trust go hand in hand. The truth has served the American people and its leaders well for decades. We may not always want to hear it, but we’re strong and resilient; we don’t need a sugar-coated version. Truth-telling can be a real gift; I often tried to communicate that to patients. It sends the message to the other person that you trust them, that you have faith that they can handle what you’re about to tell them, however painful. But it takes courage.

Each of us may have his or her own motives, conscious or unconscious, for denying reality — managing our own existential fear of death, maybe worrying about losing an election — and we each have different strategies for coping.  But a president’s deliberate avoidance of the truth of what he knows is about to unfold over the next few months is — and let me say this loud and clear — an insult to the American people. It demonstrates distrust and disrespect, not to mention a real lack of caring.

Most of you reading this are probably familiar with the Serenity Prayer. It is wisdom at its finest: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

The part of the prayer that sometimes gets the least attention is this: “courage to change the things I can.” 

Donald Trump has the power to change things — but, day after day, chooses not to use that power. He is a coward and he is killing us.

Today, doctors are urging the governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, to take stricter measures to help slow the virus spread. The mayor of Miami is urging the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis — who refused to close beaches to spring break revelers — to put into place a statewide lockdown. And Mississippi governor Tate Reeves has declared that just about every business is essential, so life in Mississippi pretty much will go on as usual . This is the governor who exclaimed that he didn’t want to follow “dictatorship models like China.”

I think what Governor Reeves really means is that he doesn’t want to be an adult, let alone a leader. He’s telling us that he doesn’t have the courage to change the things he can. The Cowardly Lion at least recognized that he needed courage, which to me was downright courageous.

These governors as well as Trump and his administration are refusing to take responsibility, and they are refusing to make hard choices. They lack courage, and their inaction is killing the American people, not to mention the countless health care heroes on the frontlines daily. It is a betrayal of the American people.

Yesterday, Trump tried again to do his best soft-shoe. He talked about deaths in other countries, and ignored the death toll here. He and his trade advisor Peter Navarro made a joke about Harvard; it wasn’t a time for jokes. He likes to tout his talks with CEOs, and he lies daily about testing, vaccine development, possible treatments, ventilators. I don’t recall ever hearing him express sorrow at the deaths of the virus victims.

If any of my loved ones, young or old, are felled by the COVID-19, I will be hard put not to hold this administration and its handmaidens partly responsible. Yes, the virus will be the direct cause — but the president and his minions will be co-conspirators. They looked away from the truth (it’s all “incredible” and we’re having great “success”! says Trump) and did not make tough choices. They don’t trust us to handle the truth, and can’t trust themselves to handle the devastating reality. Cowards.

Zero cases? Can you tell that I’m angry?

Now, we’re waiting to hear what Trump will propose in terms of possibly revising social distancing guidelines by Easter. One idea is to designate jurisdictions as low, medium and high risk. Let me say this clearly: At best, this proposal is naive; at worst, it is a manipulation of scientific principles in its exclusion of significant relevant variables. As many have said, the virus doesn’t recognize county lines. To think that rural America is going to be immune to this virus is folly. The health care system in sparsely populated areas has been blinking red for years — not enough hospitals, resources, or staff.

Some of you might say I’m too negative, that the situation may not be so bad, maybe the risk designation will work. I am not a medical expert, and I clearly don’t have all the facts. But I am listening, have been listening, to the medical experts, and their voices are growing louder and more urgent each day – do more NOW, they are saying, not in a few days or weeks. There is no denying that they are calling B.S. on this president and his administration’s approach in dealing with this virus. The experts rely on data, and those data say that we need to put into place much stricter measures to flatten the curve.

So, we drown in Trump’s cowardice.

I’m guessing that each of you reading this could tell your own unique stories of sacrifice, of how this virus, and the nation’s responses or lack thereof, have contributed to your worry, fear, and anxiety. What I am being forced to give up is nothing compared to those remarkable medical professionals who confront this crisis each day, or those whose jobs have been lost and are facing great economic calamity.  I wish for each of you to find your own space, place, emotional and physical, where you can find a few minutes of respite. Yes, we need hope. Real hope will come (I hope!) when our leaders have the courage to face the truth, and trust us to deal with it — however painful it may be — and take much stronger action.

My hope partly lies in knowing that the American people have faced many crises and enemies before, and will again. It also resides in something that you can find on a penny. Remember E Pluribus Unum? “Out of many, one.” This is the real foundation, Donald Trump, of what makes America great.

At 3:49 this morning, our one-year-old pup (affectionately known as Crazy Ace) woke up and started barking. “Roof roof roof; roof roof. Roof. Roof!” My husband and our 8-year-old dog heaved loud sighs of exasperation almost in unison, and I could only chuckle to myself. For now, life goes on.

12 thoughts on “The Cowards Are Killing Us

  1. Brilliant writing, Jan, and brilliant thinking as well. I don’t think our country has ever faced such horror, except maybe the Civil War. In some ways I feel less exposed because I live alone in a rural area without much personal human contact and very little social life. But still … when will I see my wonderful grandchildren again? FaceTime will only get you so far. Please be in touch if possible, Jan. It is terrific to “hear” your voice on Frank’s blog.
    –Randi

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Jan. You have put in one place all my feelings – anger, frustration, anxiety, grief, terror. And you have put your finger on why we aren’t working as a nation – we have no leader and no leadership, except Gov. Cuomo who has been a commanding voice in this shit show.
    Best wishes to you all.
    Sally

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This piece is so heartfelt and so beautifully written . It captures so well the outrage I feel towards an administration that is morally bankrupt and totally inept in dealing with this crisis.
    Well done .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So it’s Trump’s fault that the virus is here and spreading. He and his staff are doing the best they can. Remember that he stopped travel from China immediately, which even though unpopular with the Dems, it saved the country from being in a worse place then it is now. Yes, the CDC system that he inherited was flawed, but not one person on earth could forecast this would happen. For those that forgot, the swine flu infected 60 million Americans, killed over 13,000, and wasn’t declared a National Emergency for 6 months. I think Trump is doing better than that. So lets blame Trump for all of this. I know many do not like or approve of him, but he is our President and we need to support him and the staff working on this. What about congress passing a relief bill, yet they put in things like money for the Kennedy Center, giving themselves a 25% raise, and so on. These things had nothing to do with the relief bill, but they got it. New York is crying for ventilators, yet their governor admitted to having a stockpile they are not using. And what about the people that refuse to social distance? They go to corona virus parties, cough on produce in stores, lick items on the shelf, etc. Do you think this is helping? I respect your opinion, but I have a different one. Yes, this is going to be a bad situation, but the American people need to do their part also.

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  5. Jan – thank you for being eloquent and restrained when all I can do is sputter with rage at the craven, selfish, infantile stupidity of this boy who would be president and further sputter at my own inability to find sufficient adjectives and adverbs and nouns and possibly even gerunds to express my own rage. (Feel free to edit that sentence.) Mind if I share your piece with my friends and relations, far and near, and also with all the restaurants and airlines and retail vendors who suddenly seem to have no greater priority in life than to let me know that they are doing everything they can to protect my health and well being? Keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a beautiful and powerful piece, but I think it omit some thing. Perhaps I am just more cynical than your other readers, Jan, but I think this is about greed more than cowardice. New Orleans did not want to give up the revenue from Mardi Gras. Florida did not want to give up the revenue from spring break. Trump did not want to give up the Easter resort season and so wanted to open business at all of his hotels, claiming if it was for the benefit of Americans. It was a biased calculated risk and it backfired big-time.
    Last night I Watch the video from a healthcare worker in Spain. He says he cries every night. In some parts of Spain they have begun to practice triage in the hospitals. They are removing the elderly from ventilators and sedating them. I can’t help but think that this administration would like to do the same thing. We will Hurd the call, though it was squelched pretty quickly, that grandmas and grandpas should step up and give their lives for the economy so that their grandchildren will have a better world. I would give up my life for my grandchildren, but not to bail out this administration. I believe that this administration would be happy to sacrifice the elderly. It will solve all their Medicare and Social Security problems.
    Cowardice? Yes. Big big time. But cowardice has a good partner in this dance macabre: greed.

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