By Alan S. Chartock | October 10, 2020

There are considerably more than 200,000 people in the United States who have died because of the coronavirus and its complications. The United States is a world leader in deaths due to that virus. One of the prime reasons for that is that the President of the United States, Donald Trump, behaved unconscionably in arguing, both by example and by word, against people wearing face masks which we now know could have saved tens of thousands of lives. When you compare the number of lives lost in this country with the numbers of people who died in Europe or places like South Korea where mask wearing approached universality, we are a pathetic last place.

There are those, and I am one of them, who believe that in downplaying the threat of COVID-19, Donald Trump is responsible for these deaths. I will never understand his motives in arguing against taking this most simple of precautions. All I know is that because Trump says that he listened to his “instincts” and not to the science, a lot of people have contracted the disease and many of them are dead. Is there anyone who wants to argue that basic premise with me? He is not a kid who tried to rob a bodega and spent years in prison because of that. Again, he recklessly endangered the people he was (sort of) elected to serve. All he had to do was say, “Everyone should wear a mask,” and our numbers would be a lot better. People told him that again and again, but he just ignored them. He even ridiculed Joe Biden for wearing a mask.

So now Trump, himself, is infected. He told people that he didn’t think he’d get it, but he did. He was almost immediately airlifted to Walter Reed Medical Center where he received a promising cocktail of medications that would almost certainly have been denied to you and me. Ten of thousands of people are dead from the disease but not Donald Trump. His behavior has been unconscionable and we all should know it.

Unfortunately, my views on Trump don’t seem to be shared by the people who are insisting that when the president falls ill, everyone should be wishing him well. Really? For his part, he did a video thanking everyone and suggesting that he would never forget people’s kindness. This ogre is thanking people for THEIR kindness?!

This isn’t a game. Donald Trump threatens to interrupt the greatest of American traditions, the peaceful transference of power; a hallmark of our unique and treasured system of government. People who are critical of Trump and have been calling him out for the last four years are refusing to say anything bad about the guy who is the worst threat to American democracy ever. By wishing him well and refusing to say anything truthful about the guy, some of these people are demonstrating that the game of American politics is just that. Our service men and women laid down their lives to preserve the right to vote. Now this despicable man, along with his sycophantic assistants in the Senate, threatens the very bedrock of our democracy. He has been crystal clear about this. Sure, let’s send him a get well soon card.

If you turned on the TV when his COVID-19 diagnosis was announced, you heard one anchor after another wishing the very man they had been decrying, day after day, well. Then even Joe Biden announced that he was taking anti-Trump ads off the air. For his part, Trump declared that he won’t do the same with his negative ads. What? Are we crazy? This is a man who many think wants to turn this country into a Putin-like dictatorship. Put another way, spare me the hypocrisy.

Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at [email protected].