Trump is getting blamed for the deaths caused by COVID. Is this fair? It is after all a natural disaster not an act of human agency. Should he get the blame for all of the death and economic suffering from a natural cause that didn’t even start in this nation?
To answer this let’s try a thought experiment and imagine how this plays out in two parallel universes. One where America was actually intelligent and Mitt Romney is winding down the last year of his second term, and one where America is at least less stupid and Hillary Clinton is finishing her first and probably the only term.
Alternate Universe 1:
If Mitt Romney had been put in in 2012 then on a global stage you would have seen Russia being treated as the greatest threat to our security that it is. And rather than cozy promises from Barry followed by Trump doing whatever tricks his master wanted just for a scratch behind the year, economically and politically they would have been constrained (and any Russian soldiers dumb enough to venture into the Ukraine would now be working as fertilizer for Ukrainian soil). Why is this important? Because it would mean that Russian actions over the last 8 years to destabilize the world order would have been challenged if not halted. This would mean a stronger NATO, a stronger WTO, that TTP along with numerous other trade agreements would be implemented, that Brexit and its Russian support would never have gotten off the ground. The world order would be more efficient. And because of that, and especially because of TTP, there would be less business centralization and more business in other nations. Now it’s hard to say if this would lead to less business in China or simply more business for everyone else with China holding about the same amount of growth, but what would be clear is that China would in a position where they would have to be more transparent. As they would be more transparent they would be revealing the severity of the first COVID outbreak weeks if not a month earlier. With that additional information work on a vaccine could have started weeks earlier (doesn’t seem like much—but with hundreds of thousands of infections a week, a two-week head start could mean a lot).
But let’s say that the disease still spreads out of China in this universe at the same rate, the fact is that a stronger international order could have worked to a faster consistent, and organized plan on how to deal with this. A united international order would likely have resulted in a must faster closing of flights, screening, and quarantine of passengers and perhaps better sharing of resources. No country wanted to be the first to close down its borders and flights because that was an obvious economic disaster, but international cooperation would have come with a perceived sharing of burdens and the spread could have been dealt with much faster. One of the key flaws of this entire process has been the lack of international cooperation anywhere. That breakdown can be placed squarely at the feet of Obama and Trump (not saying that Bush didn’t also have a hand in that, but 12 years of competence could have undone all the strain Bush put on the system).
But once it got to US shores would Romney have done any better. The answer is obviously yes. As the spouse of someone with a severe immune disorder, he would already have been more open to the science side of this issue, would have not gutted the CDC pandemic response programs, and possibly there would have been more money to the CDC as he would have worked over the previous 8 years with Democrats across the aisle even if he had majorities in both houses because that’s the kind of guy he is, and the CDC would have been an easy thing that both sides could agree to give more money to—not saying a lot, but certainly not the dismissive nature that Trump has treated it with. He was also a cautious man so he probably would have been issuing guidelines for masks much earlier as it would come under the “it can’t hurt and it can only help” mentality, thus it would have reduced the spread, especially early on.
Further, his business background would have made sure those national stockpiles that both Obama and Trump ignored on medical supplies would be, if not fully stocked, at least in a better position.
Finally, there would no political fighting about masks. The government would be on a united front on this and thus the spread of the disease would be much slower.
In this situation, COVID-19 would probably still be in every state, but the curve would likely be far flatter. Further, as there would be more coordination the impact on business would be less (there would still be some but it would be less). We would be in roughly the same position as most European nations, still not fully open, still not firing on all cylinders, but in a stable place without mass unemployment and infection and death numbers greatly reduced.
Alternate Universe 2
Hillary Clinton is winding down her first, and likely final term as president.
Not the great negotiator that her husband was or Romney could have been her relationships with the rest of the world would, like her predecessor be strained but not irreparable. She would, however, have likely signed TPP and thus China would have been boxed in again and some divestment of industry would have occurred from China meaning that there would have been less economic contact between China and the rest of the world, thus slowing down the spread, at least partially, but not as much as in Alternate Universe 1.
However, while some appointments may have been just as corrupt as Trump’s appointments, they would likely not be at the Cabinet-level and thus there would still have been competence running through the departments that oversaw issues of travel, trade, health, and other such issues.
Given that Republicans would likely have held onto the House under a Clinton presidency, she would have taken a page from the previous Clinton administration and worked with conservatives, specifically Speaker Paul Ryan who would have never felt the need to resign in a universe where the Trump brand of idiocy and evil prevailed, thus the economy would be in a better place and the social safety net would be in a far better position and able to handle a new shock to the system (given Ryan’s fiscal genius and the Clinton propensity for making deals across the aisle there would likely be a yearly surplus in the budget and principal on the debt would have gone down instead of up as it has with Trump.)
Now the issue of calling for masks. The animosity and hatred of Clinton would probably have powered the alt-right still, however, the defeat of Trump would not have turned them into the powerhouse that they currently and they would be exiled to the fringes of internet trolling (where they belong) rather than in seats of power. Thus, while it is likely all government officials would provide a united front, there would still be a portion on the alt-right who would want rally all the same Karens to make the same ignorant “freedom” arguments against masks—but it would be a smaller segment and the spread would still be much slower.
There are of course thousands of other smaller issues and opportunities that the official government plans for these scenarios that would likely have been followed by literally ANY other president because following the official plan is what bureaucracies staffed with even barely competent people do. But Trump has gotten rid of most of the barely competent people because any level of intelligence has an aversion to working for him and so he only hires knuckle-dragging buffoons who praise him as the god-king he thinks he is. The fact is that more people died because of what Trump has done then would have happened under any other president, and thus he is responsible for those deaths. Can I give you an exact number? No, but given that part of the problem is that his destruction of worldwide cooperation has helped this thing spread, he is morally (and in an ideal world legally) responsible for deaths the world over. But it’s not just him as I pointed out above the destruction of this worldwide cooperation began under Obama…because extremes of populism and progressivism are equally destructive and antithetical to the rational balance between moderate liberal and conservative thinking.
So yeah it is fair to blame Trump for deaths, not all of them, but certainly a huge amount of them because the rapid spread is primarily responsible dd
And this is the real problem. It’s idiots who do things for stupid reasons. Idiots who gave us Trump, and Clinton, and Bernie, and Biden, and Cruz, and AOC, and Rand Paul, and every other buffoon currently in politics. These idiot elect morons who do stupid things, attack free markets and international agreements that would have lessened these disasters on numerous levels and thousands, perhaps millions by the time this is over, would not be dead from this disease and the economic hardships that come from handling it so ineptly.
So, in the end, the most guilt goes not to Trump, or even Obama who helped destroy the international order that Trump only finished working to destroy, it goes to the morons out there who voted for Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016 (doubly so if you did both acts of evil—seriously if you got it wrong both times ethically you’re guilty of crimes against humanity). And understand this is not a glowing endorsement for Biden and the Democrats, it’s not. We, the people of the United States are going to have to hold all of their feet to the fire of whoever is in power and demand we not give into isolationism just as much as we demand that we return to a policy of free trade and free markets with the world.