What does it mean that President Trump has now contracted COVID-19? It’s no secret that he tried to downplay the severity of the pandemic from the beginning. He is on record as saying so. He said that he preferred to downplay the virus because he didn’t want the country to panic.
Apparently, he is still in “downplay” mode. The standard procedure for recovering from COVID-19 requires that an infected person remain in quarantine and undergo periodic testing for two weeks after recovery to ensure that a relapse will not occur. Mr. Trump is ignoring that wisdom, as evidenced by the fact that he insisted on being discharged from the hospital only four days after being admitted, tweeting that the virus is nothing to be feared.
Why the bravado? What message is he trying to send when he, as someone whose every move and every word set the example for the people of our country, blatantly ignores the guidelines that have been established by scientists after they have spent months studying the coronavirus?
Here’s what scares me: he is starting to look more and more like the dictators of other countries who rule with an authority that they insist cannot be questioned. When Kim Jong-Un, the “supreme leader” of North Korea was reported as being seriously ill some time ago, one of the first things he did was appear in public to project the image of a perfectly healthy person. In effect, “Nothing to see here,” even though it was confirmed afterward that he had been quite sick.
So, the President does the same thing, not only appearing in public via his ride through throngs of admirers, but then by ignoring the conventional wisdom of how to deal with COVID-19 by poo-pooing the quarantine time and strolling nonchalantly from Walter Reed Hospital, giving the thumbs-up sign all the way to Marine One.
The detrimental effect of his actions on the nation is one thing: people who simply don’t want to have to deal with the virus will point to the President and say, “See? It’s not as dangerous as those scientists and lib-nerds want us to believe.” And then everyone will be shocked when the number of outbreaks begins to rise (“Oh, my God, how did that happen??”).
More concerning to me is what may be going on under the surface of Trump’s head. If his actions are any indication, this is a man whose hunger for power and control knows no end. If it takes becoming an authoritarian to stay in the White House another four years, I believe he is not above that. He has already laid out his plan for his post-election response if the vote is anything but a landslide for Joe Biden. He has hinted that the transition will not be a peaceful one, and this is something our nation has not had to deal with in its entire history. In fact, the peaceful transition of power from one president to another has been a hallmark of our democracy, something in which we have taken pride as a nation, that has differentiated us from just about every other country on the planet, and now even that cornerstone is being threatened.
The comparison of Donald Trump to an evolving authoritarian leader is something we need to watch. If it becomes undeniable that he is moving in that direction, then the people need to stand up and prevent such a sin from making its way into the precious land of freedom we have come to take for granted. Trump is creating a situation that shows how our rights and freedoms can be gradually taken from us, and we, like the frog in the pot of water on the stove, are blindly letting him get away with it.
We cannot let that happen. We just can’t.