To use a sports metaphor to describe how the President of the United States is treating America’s state governors in the midst of the greatest crisis to hit the country in recent memory, Donald Trump has changed the rules of the game in the middle of the fourth quarter.
The federal government — until the Trump era — has always been seen as a reliable source of emergency assistance when disaster struck, with FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, at the ready to help communities when floods, hurricanes, or other natural disasters devastated the ability of local officials to handle emergency response in overwhelming situations.
Under Donald “I don’t take responsibility at all” Trump, however, that assistance from FEMA began to first be drizzled out reluctantly, particularly if, like in the case of Puerto Rico, the population was primarily brown-skinned people who didn’t speak English as their first language despite their status as full U.S. citizens.
Now those early signs of Trump’s reluctance to take action to help Americans in need are reaching their logical conclusion as the feckless and uncaring president shirks his responsibilities toward the entire country during the coronavirus pandemic, not just a commonwealth that he doesn’t seem to truly believe is a real part of our nation.
Trump didn’t formally announce the change in policy as to what states can expect from the federal government in any executive order or any piece of signed legislation. Rather, he made his attitude clear in an interview this morning with Fox News as he desperately attempted to breathe life into the dying corpse of his 2020 campaign for reelection, one of the early victims of the COVID-19 outbreak and his foot-dragging response to it.
Trump to Bill Hemmer on Democratic governors criticizing the federal government for not supplying enough needed medical gear: "They have to get that gear themselves … they shouldn't be hitting us." pic.twitter.com/rKLyX4KdKG
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 24, 2020
It’s not surprising that the Republican ethos of limited government — a mantra for the party since the days of President Ronald Reagan — has devolved so quickly to the “every man for himself and screw saving seats on the lifeboat for women and children” philosophy that Trump is taking as he mismanages the federal response to the global health crisis.
With Republicans now becoming the very government “death panels” that they had warned would be the consequence of universal health care and asking the elderly to be willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of corporate profits in the guise of helping their grandkids, it’s no wonder that state governors are livid with Trump at his gross abdication of his responsibilities as president and his unilateral abandonment of the social construct that bound the states to federal institutions in such difficult times.
How much longer will Trump be able to continue to destroy the norms of governing our nation before enough people realize that his malicious and malevolent behavior will lead to countless needless deaths?
How much longer before grieving relatives of those prematurely lost to the pandemic due to the Trump administration’s inadequate preparation and planning and leaden response time begin to turn their ire on the man in the White House exacerbating the problems rather than attempting to solve them?
How much longer before people start inundating the White House lawn with plague blankets and marching towards the Capitol with pitchforks and tar and feathers?
Perhaps if Trump contemplates that last scenario, he won’t be quite so anxious to end the quarantine quite so quickly just to restart an economy that primarily benefited the wealthy oligarchs anyway.
Until Trump’s poll numbers go down, and he realizes that resignation is the only honorable end to a presidency that he is so obviously unfit to hold, the only answer to the questions above is “not soon enough.”