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Jackie McNeil of South Portland is a historian, writer, educator and activist. She is part of Mainers for Accountable Leadership.
I can feel the rage welling up inside me. It’s been there all along, in bits and pieces hidden among the grief and fear and stress. But it’s now forming into a massive ball of fiery rage.
President Donald Trump knew about the dangers of coronavirus. He understood. And he did nothing.
No, he did worse than nothing. He actively allowed the spread of this deadly virus. “I wanted to always play it down,” he told journalist Bob Woodward in March.
So he ridiculed those with masks. He called the virus a Democratic hoax. He held rallies and campaign events and the Republican National Convention on the White House lawn. He failed to activate the Defense Production Act to get personal protective equipment to hospitals.
He never developed a national strategy on masks, closings, or anything else. And he has spent far too much time trying to silence health experts, shift the blame and undermine governors who were willing to act.
And now we have more than 6 million cases. More than 190,000 American people have died from this deadly virus. And, yes, some of that would have happened anyway; it’s the nature of the virus. But we are far worse off than the rest of the developed world, because it was mismanaged from the beginning.
Not because he didn’t understand. Not because he didn’t believe it. He made a conscious choice to minimize it and to undercut efforts to slow it down.
And every American should be enraged. Led by those who have lost a loved one, and those whose own health has been damaged by this virus. What of all the children with multisystem inflammatory disease? And all those people who will suffer long-term heart and lung damage? What of those who will struggle to pay the medical bills?
Yes, their rage should lead the way, but we have all lost something because of this. Businesses closed, jobs lost, savings depleted, routine medical care postponed, all because Trump “wanted to play it down.” Families who haven’t seen elderly parents in six months except through nursing home windows, grandparents who have yet to hold their grandbabies, because he misled us.
Students who have fallen behind, or those who’ve had to drop out because they cannot pay tuition anymore, because he misled us. And yes, all of the lost birthday parties and anniversaries and high school graduations and backyard barbecues and church picnics and Little League games and everything. We have all lost so much this year, because he didn’t tell the truth.
And our nation? Millions of jobs lost, the economy devastated, schools and colleges on the brink of collapse and trillions of additional dollars added to our national debt. And we haven’t even begun to climb out of this mess yet.
All because the president lied to us. He knew. He understood. He believed it. And he still didn’t tell us.
Trump destroyed our economy, our health and the very fabric of our society, killing hundreds of thousands of Americans in the process. Every American should be enraged.