Politicizing Covid-19

TEHRAN, May 10 (MNA) – Before the Covid-19 pandemic I dreaded at my certainty that US President Donald Trump stands a good chance for re-election in November. However, Trump’s behavior and reactions have given me some hope. Can Trump administration’s poor response to the pandemic cost him the elections in November?

His early neglect has accelerated America’s economic decline and now he is hurrying to re-open cities and bring a festival of economic recovery before November, prioritizing economics over public health. Rather prioritizing his presidency.

Referring to the virus as the “Democrat’s hoax” and later as the “Chinese virus”, attacking the credibility of WHO, suspension of all immigration to the U.S., blaming China for ignoring the outbreak in the early stages, blocking Iran’s $5 billion in emergency aid from IMF, ratcheting up even more sanctions on Iran amid the deadly outbreak, …, and the list goes on.
In one of his White House briefings, Trump prematurely assumed that the coronavirus outbreak can be contained and declared that the U.S. economy will ‘skyrocket’ once it is. There is no way of knowing how or when this pandemic will end.

Second Covid-19 peak would be a disaster if the lockdowns are lifted too early, says UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his first public statement since recovering from coronavirus.

Remember the "war on HIV"?

Since the 1980s, the virus has infected more than 74 million and killed 32 million people, mostly non-Westerners, mostly after the scientists found a treatment to control the virus in the mid-1990s. Tragically, some 770,000 people died from AIDS in 2018 alone, reports WHO.

Early on when the Covid-19 was called “virus” or “pneumonia” and the rate of fatalities was on the increase the Western media repeatedly compared the number of U.S. fatalities with casualties of 9/11, of September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York.

Now the casualties from Covid-19 have way passed the number of people who died during the 9/11 attacks, those comparisons have dimmed.

If not terrorism then war? Now that the Covid-19 death toll in the U.S has surpassed the 59,000 Americans killed in the Vietnam war, that comparison has also been dimmed.

Politicizing the response to the pandemic has not only delayed an appropriate reaction and prevention response from heads of states.

Referring to the pandemic as a war and the virus as the ‘invisible enemy’ Trump declared himself as ‘wartime president’ in coronavirus battle in March.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has insisted this is not a war, but rather the “test of humanity” indirectly responding to French President Emanuel Macron’s “we are at war” statement.

Trump has warned that the Chinese may not have created the virus in a lab, but have contributed to the spread of the contagion with their habitual secrecy, concealment, and prioritization of politics over health.

Referring to himself as a ‘war president’ Trump accused China of not asking for help at the beginning of the crisis ‘out of pride’.

Changes by the pandemic can result in drastic economic and political changes comparable to those of post-WWI and WWII and could indeed tip the balance of power in favor of one state or another.

Accusations of Chinese hiding the contagion could lead to the beginning of a new cold war between the U.S. and China.

Medic-in-chief?

The sad hilarity was in full view during a White House briefing, when Trump suggested possibly hitting the body with a "tremendous - whether it's ultraviolet or just very powerful light, or bringing the light inside the body, either through the skin or some other way" and theorized on injecting disinfectant to knock the virus out "in a minute".

A Washington Post analysis recently found over the 13 hours of past three weeks of briefings Trump spent two hours on attacks, 45 minutes praising himself and his administration, and just 4.5 minutes expressing condolences for coronavirus victims. The analysis found that Trump has attacked someone in 113 out of 346 questions he has answered – or a third of his responses.

The analysis found out that Trump has played videos praising himself and his administration’s efforts three times, including one that was widely derided as campaign propaganda produced by White House aides.

Returning back to the 3 November 2020 U.S. elections when Joe Biden and Trump will go head to head for the White House, currently, polls are showing Biden is leading. Worth mentioning is that Biden has called for the U.S. to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Currently, the 10-poll average indicates that just under 50 percent of Americans intend to back Biden while Trump’s support trails this by around five or six points. It is all too early who will win the U.S. elections given that despite losing the popular vote in 2016, Trump won the elections.

At least 47 countries have postponed elections due to the coronavirus outbreak, including Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom, France, and Ethiopia. In April South Korea went with its planned elections despite the contagion.

In 1864, the U.S. held a presidential election despite the country being in the midst of a civil war. During the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak that killed about 675,000 people in the U.S. alone, the country went ahead with a mid-term vote, although the turnout was very low according to the New York Times.

A bill was passed in March in Hungary which handed Prime Minister Viktor Orban the power to rule by decree – definitely.

Lastly, if a second wave hits the U.S. it can give Trump special executive powers to put the country in another lockdown and cancel the elections and stick around for another while. Could Trump use the virus to stay indefinitely in power?

This article was first published in the Tehran Times

News Code 158491

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