Here we are. Alone together. “Sheltering in place.” Sequestered. Doing our best for one another by staying away from one another: a paradox at once disquieting and difficult. My wife’s 90-year-old mother is 20 minutes from us in a lovely shelter of her own, and we now speak to her by phone or wave to her through her window. Our children call us or sit at a safe distance on our patio.
But regardless the difficulties of this discipline of separation, we respect that anyone who knows anything about disease and the seclusion required to forestall it tells us distancing is essential.
Except for Doctor in Chief Donald Trump, who seems to think we already have done too much on our own. His doctor of choice — Fox News — has persuaded him that more of us will perish from a failed economy than will grow sick and die from violating the tried-and-truly effective discipline of quarantine. And Donald has begun to dream of an Easter where the churches and coffins are full of the elderly and the infirm.
And as the elderly grow weary of being separated from loved ones and from regular visits to Costco, we may begin to wonder: Our president insists he is doing war against not merely disease but the greater damage this new and virulent virus will do to the economy. Could he be right?
And as we are considering President-the-Physician’s discouragements of the advice unanimously reported by the credentialed medical community, the Texas lieutenant governor appeared on Fox News wearing a crucifix on his lapel and preaching that elderly patriots should be willing “to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren.”
But his willingness to define who does and does not love their families is not what most offends. It is his apparent ignorance (or disregard) of the logical fallacy — the false equivalency — he uses to define who does and doesn’t love their children, and his suggestion that disregarding the science of prevention is proof positive of care and caring.
“What we care about and what we love more than anything are those children,” the lieutenant governor of Texas preached from the pulpit of Fox News. And Democrats who trust in modern medicine and medical opinion? Apparently, not so much.
This sort of demagoguery appears to persuade the faithful minions of Demagogue in Chief Donald, who is worse at math and science than he is at the personal morality of family life. Which is why we might have guessed that while we were raging about his indifference to the suffering of children at our southern border, he and his Texas toady were preparing to tell us the economy is more important than the immediate health and safety of our own children.
Would that lapel pins and arguments were sufficient to prove purpose. However, long experience suggests that not what people say or wear but what they do is the better evidence of intent, and President Donald Trump has ever evidenced his fidelity to dollars more than to “the little babies” he sentimentally enlists to justify his inability to respect professional medical practice and the practice of a discipline designed by people who understand pandemics so well as he practices his perverse politics of finance.
Meanwhile, in Texas, the governor (to whom the earnest and self-righteous lieutenant governor reports) has relented to the math of disease and the science of pandemics and suggested he may mandate quarantines.
Occasionally common sense and good science triumphs over the posturing of imposters with pins in their lapels and Easter as their excuse.
Clifton Jolley, Ph.D., is president of Advent Communications, Ogden.