Republicans Won’t Let a Little Global Pandemic Ruin the Economy — A Few Might Need To Die, Though
Trump calls for “packed churches” on Easter Sunday even though the Pope himself cancelled services at the Vatican.
While we’re self-quarantining, right-wing pundits are trying to recruit your grandma for a suicide mission.
The daily COVID-19 task force briefing features more unhinged drama than a Real Housewives reunion show.
It’s rare, if unprecedented, for Danielle to agree with Trump on anything. But she does this week.
“We actually are at war,” she says. “With an invisible virus.”
As the pandemic spreads across the country, every day seems to dawn with fresh hell. Hospitals are overwhelmed. The medical supply chain is broken. Meanwhile, the consequences of the outbreak on our economy, and our society, are unclear. But the future looks dim.
“I am deeply afraid of what's going on in this country,” says Touré. “The direction we're headed economically is incredibly frightening –– massive unemployment of 20, 25, maybe 30 percent.”
And as we record this episode, Congress has yet to pass a relief bill that provides cash support for working people.
“Unfortunately, we had a two month head start that Trump blew by referring to it [COVID-19] as a hoax and putting no parameters in place to keep Americans safe,” Danielle says.
“Republicans, when the blame falls squarely on their shoulders, like to say shit like well, now is not the time to blame.”
“Motherfucker, I have all the time in the world. What the fuck else am I doing?”
That’s the vibe this week. Let’s get into it.
Episode Highlights –– The Apocalypse Is Here
Republicans’ pandemic pitch: choose death over a depression
“I'm really afraid of where we are right now,” Touré says to Danielle. “How are you?”
“I am deeply unwell, I'm just gonna be honest,” she says. “For the past two weeks, I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night ... rolling over, picking up my phone, looking at Twitter, wondering if I've missed something. If catastrophe has hit even harder than it's already hitting.”
Danielle admits that she deals with anxiety even in “normal” times. But it’s exacerbated by the chilling tone of Trump and his acolytes in the midst of a troubling development: the WHO says that the U.S. could become the new global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Republicans literally went on television this week and said to the elderly: Sacrifice yourself. Sacrifice your life for your grandchildren. But more than that –– for the fucking economy. For the Dow Jones,” Danielle says.
Not only is that insane, but there’s some clear cognitive dissonance happening.
“This is the pro-life party, by the way, that talked about Obamacare ‘death panels,’” she says.
Trump’s cure: Back to work by Easter
Sunday night, @realdonaldtrump tweeted that “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF.”
Trump has been pushing this message since the beginning of the crisis. A tanking economy is kryptonite to his reelection campaign. His base, ostensibly absorbing little more than his sound bites, are quick to parrot Trump’s claims that America will be open for business just as soon as we eradicate the “Chinese virus,” which is totally happening before Easter.
“Just in time for Jesus's resurrection,” says Danielle.
“We have a leader who is thinking, how can I make this work for me politically, rather than trying to make this work for the people of America,” Touré adds. “He talks about America's great companies. Notice that he never talks about an American who has died because of coronavirus.”
Connection amidst COVID-19: we need a hug, but we’ll wait
While Trump thinks people are just dying to go out to restaurants, “I am dying to see other people and connect with them,” Touré says. “But it's not like somebody's gonna say the war is over and now we can get back to hugging. It's gonna be awhile before I want to hug somebody, before I want to shake somebody else's hand, before I want to be in a crowded room.”
Danielle agrees: “This idea that people need to rush back to work because we need to save the economy. I don't know ––I'm not a scientist, but I would assume that people need to be alive in order to work.”
Science denial in the age of social distancing
It seems that right-wingers are choosing to revel in flouting state and local bans, CDC guidelines and common sense. Jerry Falwell Jr.’s white evangelical Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia welcomed back 1,900 of its students.
“This is something that, apparently, you can pray away,” Danielle says. “Those who are suffering from the coronavirus –– it was their time anyway. These are the white evangelicals that follow Trump and believe that he's the second coming of Christ. This is not a joke.”
Touré wonders if we should encourage Trump supporters who think COVID-19 is just the flu or a Democratic hoax to go ahead and “go back to work, travel, do your thing. Don't ask why we call you the canaries in the coal mine.”
Unfortunately, Danielle points out, that’s not a viable plan.
“We can’t let their ignorance infect us –– literally.”
Trump’s must-see COVID-TV
Touré’s new favorite TV show –– albeit a guilty pleasure –– is the “insane (COVID-19 Task Force) daily briefing, which I never miss,” he says. “They're so much fun.”
Danielle isn’t a fan.
“You have a stomach of steel. I can't stomach that bullshit anymore,” she says.
“It's like a soap,” Touré explains. “I watch it in real time, if at all possible. I watch every minute ... I yell at the reporters for not asking the questions we need them to ask. Like, ask Dr. Birx if she thinks that it's okay to go back [to business as usual] on April 12.
“Sometimes Dr. Fauci or Dr. Birx will disagree with Trump, but they do it in a sort of elegant way … so that Trump doesn't realize what they just said. Pence coming in with his smooth lies … Trump on prompter versus when the questions come and he starts the lying and the gaslighting and the madness.”
That being said, Touré understands why some Trump critics argue that networks shouldn’t be airing the briefings at all. They “do not provide knowledge and comfort to people,” he admits. “They don’t provide an actual understanding of what's going on. They only confuse people.”
The state house is the new White House
“I should watch more of your boyfriend Governor Cuomo's briefings,” Touré tells Danielle. “Because he is giving truth. He's a real leader.”
“I like strong people who know what the fuck they're talking about,” she replies.
While the president comes unhinged on live TV every day, a handful of governors are taking up the mantle of leadership, providing the science-based information and much-needed humanity Trump lacks.
“Perhaps we should give thanks to the founders for saying, let's not have a federal government that controls everything,” Touré says.
After all, no matter how much the president wants us to go back to work, governors like Cuomo, Newsom and Inslee can ignore him and do what’s necessary to flatten the curve.
“They are the ones who have shut down Washington, California and New York,” Touré points. out. “They don't need to jump when Trump says ‘jump.’”
Supply chains, slush funds and socialism
For Touré, one of the most confusing aspects of Trump’s non-response to COVID-19 is the Defense Production Act.
“He keeps saying that he signed it,” Touré says. “But he hasn’t used it. Companies are supposedly calling him
without him asking, saying they’re going to make masks and ventilators … But then people on the ground are saying they don't have enough PPE … So I don't understand. I do not see a federal government that is helping the situation.”
The government’s “help” so far amounts to a slush fund for big business, Danielle says.
“$500 billion to corporations with no strings attached. They can take all of that money –– taxpayer money –– and fire their entire workforce to cut their bottom line and stack their checks for shareholders and CEOs.”
She’s frustrated by journalists who cover the crisis with the “both sides-ism that fucking got us here,” she adds. “Both sides aren’t looking to ensure that corporations get the biggest breaks, on top of the tax breaks they already received.”
It exposes a political paradox: When things like universal health care or free college are offered to the masses, it's socialism, she says. When bailouts are offered to corporations, they’re “a fucking subsidy.”
Voter suppression: endemic to the GOP
Touré wishes we had a stronger leader of the Democratic party –– “who could truly stand up and forcefully articulate what we should be getting,” he says.
Danielle notes that Nancy Pelosi wanted a provision in the latest relief package that would allot $2 billion for nationwide mail-in voting.
“You know what fucking Moscow Mitch said about that? He said it was a sham, it was partisanship and it shouldn't go into the bill.”
That tracks with his party’s modus operandi, Touré says.
“In recent years, it has been critical to the GOP to make sure that large parts of the country don't vote. They approach it almost surgically, with the gerrymandering, with voter ID, with finding ways to disenfranchise or make it hard for Black, brown and young people –– classic Democratic voters, to vote. On purpose.”
Whether because of voter suppression or apathy, the Republicans’ long game has proved effective.
“In 2016, 100 million people who were eligible to vote, didn't vote,” Danielle says.
She has no patience for anyone who doesn’t show up this year.
“If you don’t realize that in this grave moment of fucking danger ... that we are in fucking Dante's Inferno because of Trump … there's no convincing you.”
Coronavirus: a U.S. healthcare turning point?
The pandemic has exposed many of the cracks in the American system, but perhaps the worst one is healthcare. Will this public health crisis provide an opportunity for Democrats to make their case?
After all, President Obama’s signature achievement was the Affordable Care Act. In 2018, Nancy Pelosi won back her house on healthcare issues.
“What the modern Democratic Party most wants to do –– the first conversation in all the debates –– was around healthcare,” Touré notes.
The pandemic crisis represents “a stark choice,” he adds, “between the party that cares deeply and politically about your health ... and the party that's like, no, you'll be fine. It's just a flu. It's cool. Get back out there.”
“Take some Tussin. Get back to work,” Danielle says, and Touré agrees: Tussin takes care of everything.
We'll be back next week. If there's still a country.
“It used to be funny,” Danielle says.
“It's not funny anymore,” says Touré. “It's too real.”
Get your weekly rundown of the presidential election from a Black progressive point of view on democracy-ish. Consider Danielle Moodie and Touré as your tour guides, flight attendants and/or therapists as we move through this dumpster fire of an election cycle—together! #dcppolitics