It may not be fair to judge Donald Trump’s presidency totally on his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, it is emblematic of the chaos and incompetence that have consistently marred his time in the White House. It perfectly illustrates why he does not deserve reelection.
The numbers in this country are shocking: more than 235,000 deaths, by far the highest in the world. Even after adjusting for population, the U.S. death toll is nearly five times the global average.
Consider this comparison.
If the United States had just done as well as Germany in fighting the disease, instead of 235,000 dead, the fatality count would have been 42,000 at this point. That’s 193,000 unnecessary American deaths that can be attributed to failed leadership, starting at the Oval Office.
One major difference between the United States and Germany, as Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times recently pointed out, is that Germany has a scientist at the head of its government, while America is led by an anti-scientist.
Trump has repeatedly undermined his own medical experts, ignoring their advice on social distancing and masks, alternately praising and belittling them in public, promoting cockamamie cures and treatments. The scientists haven’t always gotten it right on this novel contagion, but they have corrected themselves as their experience with it has grown. Meanwhile, the president learned nothing even after contracting COVID-19 himself. In the final days of this campaign, desperate to hold onto the office, he has held large rallies even as the nation and the world head toward another deadly surge.
Who will win the presidential election?
About the only thing the president has done right on the virus is fast-track the development of a vaccine, but even there it is a mixed record. Because he is so distrusted by a sizable share of the population, even if a vaccine is approved in record time, half of the population probably won’t take it if Trump is the proponent in chief.
The Republican incumbent has done some things right. His three appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court have corrected its leftward leanings and should bring it back to its rightful role of interpreting law, rather than making it. He has helped the nation realize the error of a criminal justice system that cost a fortune while producing little in the way of rehabilitation. He has scaled back some of Washington’s overregulation.
But his failings heavily outweigh his successes. His nastiness, his crudeness and his serial lying have damaged the standing of the office of the presidency. He has encouraged divisiveness in this nation, giving comfort to white supremacists and credence to conspiracy fanatics. He has abused the power of his office. His impeachment may have been politically motivated, but he did provide the rationale for it by soliciting foreign interference in American elections.
Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic challenger, is not a perfect candidate. He is too beholden to the pro-choice faction of his party. At nearly 78, he’s older than we would prefer for someone at the beginning of such a high-stress and demanding job.
But he is a decent man, a moderate by instinct, and a person who has proven himself capable of working effectively across party lines. He doesn’t think he is the smartest person in the room and will listen to the experts, whether it be on controlling a pandemic or a foreign adversary.
He will restore integrity to the office. And he’ll come closer to binding the racial and political wounds that have Americans at such odds.
A vote for Biden is a vote for a return to competence and respectability. We recommend that vote.