[I wrote this six months ago.]
A Streetcar Called Pandemic: Next Stop New Orleans.
Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers? —Tennessee Williams, “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
Donald Trump has failed. Unable to stop the spread of Coronavirus based on a mixture of indolence and arrogant incompetence, the novel virus has marched like General Sherman to the sea. Now it is most likely to next explode throughout the South, including population centers in Florida, Georgia and Louisiana. Now Donald Trump has a real problem. This is his “base.”
These are the people that he and Fox News gleefully chortled to in early March about the. Democratic “hoax.”
One Fox Business News host called it the virus impeachment hoax.
Yeah, right. But the virus won’t wait for the next Trump rally to be intimidated. It will move like Sherman’s Three Armies to the sea. And the path of the virus will be the major population centers of Atlanta, the cities of Mississippi and, of course, New Orleans. And, we know it is already spreading through Florida.
Florida, Georgia and Mississippi each have Republican governors who have aligned themselves with Donald Trump. And each of them have all but ignored the medical and scientific pleas for social distancing.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp made news recently for his failing to know that the novel virus could be (and is being) spread by asymptomatic Americans. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis spent the better part of a month ignoring all the evidence from blue states like New York, Washington and California, by allowing the normal Spring Break gaiety to take place on Florida beaches and coastlines. Now, after a wake-up call of some 7,000 cases, DeSantis has issued his own stay-at-home order.
And while New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and California Governor Gavin Newsom struggle to shift for adequate protection equipment for their hospitals and ventilators for their patients, Trump is reported to have already sent DeSantis three orders worth of needed supplies to fight Covid-19. One can only wonder if Jared Kushner’s statement about “our stockpile” as opposed to the State stockpiles is an open and not subtle warning that any States which have not supported the Administration will be left to fend for themselves — like Michigan and perhaps, Illinois.
In short, without explicitly saying so, Trump will engage in his own “Electoral College of Medicine,” treating the States that he needs and prefers as we approach November and letting the States he views as electorally-adverse to remain in his pandemic waiting room indefinitely. No masks for you.
We know he has already castigated the governors of those States who have challenged him for permitting us to revert to the pre-federal status of a quasi-confederation. But rather than candidly state that the regions of the Northeast and parts of the urbanized Midwest are to now be ignored, Trump personalizes each interaction with the States; some are not grateful; others you just can’t satisfy.
But let’s be honest: Trump never intended to assist his perceived “opposition States” anymore than he intended to aid Puerto Rico. Trump has never done so because he never has viewed himself as a President of all Americans — of all 50 States; but as representing “Us.”
“Us” for Trump are the aggrieved followers who see his corruption and not only do not blink at it, but embrace it. It is their turn, after all. And he will take care of them. Even through sickness or their perception that it is an overblown leftist concoction.
Trump assures them with each press conference that the only thing they have to fear is science itself. Besides, there are “drugs.” And as he asks casually, “what have you got to lose,” his devotees can oh so blithely know that the experts will never know as much as Trump.
So, when the virus begins to explode in New Orleans, and Atlanta, and parts of Mississippi, Trump will have to turn up his hand; the strategic stockpile will begin to flow; the drug companies may receive dangerously expedited approvals for drugs that should still be experimental; but Trump will have no real choice. His own “people” will be sick and possibly dying.
They and their families will, like the naive and deluded Blanche Dubois, look up at their physicians and ask why. How could this be happening with such unchecked pace and ferocious rapidity? After all, they never depended on the kindness of strangers — but instead on the kindness of Donald Trump.
After all, how could they know that could never be enough.