Harper Voices: Living Through a Worldwide Pandemic With an Untrustworthy President


Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

“Looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it [the coronavirus] miraculously goes away,” said President Donald Trump at a campaign rally on February 10th, 2020. Now it’s June, 2020, and I can attest that Covid-19 has not yet miraculously gone away.  


Living through a worldwide pandemic is painful enough already, but with the leadership of a president that I do not trust, it is also devastatingly embarrassing and disheartening.  When most people I have been in contact with during quarantine say they turn off the TV when President Trump speaks or simply don’t listen to anything he has to say, I feel total lack of faith and confidence with our government.


When this coronavirus pandemic began to gain speed in the United States, I couldn’t help but think that we have the worst possible president to handle this situation.  In a way, this is evidenced by the exponential growth of covid-19 cases and deaths in our country.  If Donald Trump’s ultimate goal is to “Make America Great Again”, how can he explain that under his leadership, the US is now the most rampant country for covid-19?  


The World Health Organization provides data showing that the US has about 1.1 million cumulative cases, and 60.7 thousand cumulative deaths as of May 4th, 2020.  Spain is currently the country with the second most covid-19 cumulative cases (218 thousand) and cumulative deaths (25.4 thousand).  Seeing the US statistically dwarf all other countries with this virus is really disappointing.  Such a powerful and great country surely shouldn’t be doing so poorly during a pandemic, but let’s take a closer look as to why this may be happening. 


Towards the beginning of this pandemic, President Trump grossly downplayed the risk of covid-19.  He trivialised it and gave Americans false hope.  In the early stages, Trump continually assured our country, “We have it totally under control”, “We pretty much shut it down.”  Given this information, most Americans continued with their daily lives, and took little to no precautions for the virus.  By the time President Trump, as well as most Americans, started to take greater notice and safety measures, it was too little too late.  When states began quarantine around mid March 2020, covid-19 cases were already on a continuous rise.  If the US was more prepared and took the virus more seriously earlier on, we may not be in the position we are in today. 


As the pandemic still continued to flourish, President Trump often made false claims and perpetuated mass misunderstanding of the reality of our situation.  One example of countless others is when Trump told reporters on March 6th, 2020 that “Anybody that wants a test can get a test. That’s what the bottom line is.”  In reality, tests were still limited and were only warranted to those who met certain criteria to receive testing.  Not just anybody could call up a doctor or pharmacy and easily be administered a test.  That is completely false.  And with each passing day it seems as though Trump makes a new careless statement that I read and think to myself, this is absolute nonsense.


Trump has argued that he may have downplayed the virus before as to not cause “havoc and shock” for the American people; however, I would much rather have the truth and preparedness rather than a false sense of hope and total misguided grasp of actuality.


With quarantine in full swing, Trump once was fully behind it.  Urging US citizens to do everything we can, make sacrifices, and just stay home in order to combat the virus.  Trump falsely claimed on April 13th that “The president of the United States calls the shots.”, specifically regarding the stay-at-home order.  The truth is that governors hold that power for each state.  Shortly after this claim was made, he contradicted (and corrected)  his previous statement by saying the stay-at-home order will be all up to the governors.


Unfortunately not all US citizens are patient and selfless people.  As the end date for quarantine continues to be pushed back, Americans are becoming more and more restless.  Protests have been taking place to end quarantine even though now is not a safe time to do so.  As this upset grows with some people, President Trump is once again beginning to flip his script on us.  To appease his supporters, he is defending these protests and tweeting such remarks as “LIBERATE MICHIGAN.”  Trump is moving backwards, contradicting himself once again, and is now rallying behind something that is completely dangerous and egocentric.


I know how frustrating and difficult these times are.  My job is considered “non-essential,” and I am struggling to be accepted for unemployment benefits, so I don’t have any income at this time.  Cabin fever is also in full effect for myself.  I miss going out, I miss interacting with other people, and I miss a sense of normality.  At the same time, I understand how important it is to quarantine and practice social distancing  right now.  Safety for myself and all other people are of utmost importance.


I wish I had a president right now who mirrored this fact.  I also wish I had a president who didn’t make careless, misleading, and dangerous statements. Or a president who doesn’t think he is above wearing a mask.  

The fact that I and countless other Americans don’t trust or listen to anything our own president has to say during a pandemic, is honestly really sad.  It breaks my American spirit and leaves me feeling disappointed  that enough people believe and stand behind his foolishness.  We need to learn from this pandemic experience and do what we can to have better leadership in the future.  We need a president who is trustworthy, intelligent, and compassionate towards all people.