We are not the UNITED States. We are the DISUNITED STATES. We were when we were constituted. We were when we fought the Civil War. We were when we celebrated the Civil War Sesquicentennial. And we are now as celebrate the American Revolution 250th. One can make the case that during World War II we were a united people but beyond that specific time period, the issue is more problematic.
Lincoln’s advice that a “house divided can not stand” is correct but inappropriate. We are not a house but two houses. The recent and ongoing developments with COVID-19 illustrate what was known beforehand but is now more obvious. The battle to re-open states versus social distancing in states is an expression of that divide.
The maps used on the news shows to show the spread of COVID-19 and the resulting deaths are deceptive. It is not that they are wrong [although the numbers infected and dead due to COVID-19 are likely to be higher]. They are deceptive because the virus does not occur at a state level. State maps are fine for state events – Electoral College vote, Senate and Governor elections, lockdowns and Medicaid expansion. They paint a deceptive picture for the virus.
WE WOULD BE BETTER SERVED POLITICALLY IF THE COVID-19 MAPS WERE AT THE CONGRESSIONAL LEVEL RATHER THAN AT THE STATE LEVEL.
To understand how the virus is playing out politically, we need to look at maps that better reflect the political reality. As best as I can tell simply by observing the maps and without any detailed analysis, I suspect there is a high correlation between high COVID-19 outbreak and the congressional districts that voted Democratic and low COVID-19 outbreak and the congressional districts that voted Trumpican in 2016. Similarly, this correlation would match the congressional districts that want to re-open the economy now and those that don’t.
THE EXPERTS WERE WRONG
Remember when Angela Merkel predicted a 70% infection in Germany? Remember when America was going to hit with a 75% infection rate? You don’t hear numbers like that anymore. Even a 1% rate of infection or approximately 3.3 million [less if children are excluded] is still significantly higher than the current infection rate although still attainable.
So what happened? How did the rate drop so precipitously? To a non-medical person like me the decline of such magnitude suggests the early models were incorrect. Rather than attribute the substantial decline to stay at home and social distancing, it may also be that the ease of infection was not what was originally forecast. Certainly if you are in close proximity to an infected person for an extended period of time – prison, nursing home, Spring Break, Mardi Gras, family event, conference – then the infection rate is high; less so than if you pass someone on a sidewalk or supermarket aisle for only a moment. Regardless of the reason, I think the American people are entitled to an explanation of why the original epidemic infection rates seem to have been so wrong.
There are unexpected consequences to the projected numbers being reduced so substantially. It undermines the credibility of the experts who originally predicted such catastrophic numbers. At the moment, the number dead due to CORVID-19 is roughly comparable to the annual dead due to the flu. That number will increase and doesn’t take into account the mitigation actions. Still it enables people of certain mindset to compare the death totals from human-based actions – suicide, murder, car accidents, drug overdoses/opioid-deaths – none of which required the closing down the country – to a contagion like CORVID-19. The result strengthens the views of the anti-vaccine/no climate change/anti-science/anti-expert/anti-elitist sector of the American population (see Darwin and COVID-19: Science in America).
The disease to which COVID-19 should be compared is not the annual flu or the Spanish flu of 1918 but AIDS (see The Coronavirus Is Not AIDS: Do Trumpicans Know That?). I mention this again not in a medical sense but a political one. Who are the people who are dying as a result of COVID-19? We now have a population sample of over 30,000 people from which to draw conclusions.
Real Americans in a Trumpian world are not dying in droves or even in significant numbers at this time As with AIDS, COVID-19 seems targeted in whom it strikes. But whereas AIDS required specific actions for the disease to be transmitted, COVID-19 can strike anyone anywhere. However in practice, it only seems to strike some people in some locations.
Prior conditions weakens the body and makes it more susceptible to infections. In and of itself, that observation is not new or surprising. People in a weakened condition are by definition more at risk. People with hypertension or diabetes are different from people who don’t have these conditions. People who have less adequate to medical care and who are in poorer health are more at risk. That means poor people concentrated in urban areas are more at risk…even more at risk than poor people in rural areas who live further apart. In general terms that means black people and immigrants say in Elmont, Queens, the neighborhood epicenter in the borough epicenter or the city epicenter of the state epicenter of COVID-19 in the DISUNITED STATES.
Politically, people who are not being infected in significant numbers after six weeks are being asked to care about people who are. They have lost their jobs, their savings, their businesses, their way of life even though so far they are no more at risk for being infected COVID-19 than they are by the annual flu. And they are being asked to care about people they did not care about even before the epidemic.
Think of the difference in the attitude towards New York. 9/11 was an attack on the whole country; COVID-19 isn’t. As mentioned above, World War II was a time of national unity; now the World War II generation is collateral damage – old people die. Why not play Russian roulette with the lives of people you don’t care about? After all, what happens in New York stays in New York.
THE QUEENS BROS
The examples of the two Queens bros reflects this divide in the DISUNITED STATES. Andy Cuomo, Governor of New York State, has become the national face and voice of the people who have been infected by COVID-19. With his daughter having been self-quarantined and his brother now infected, Cuomo presents a personal side to the epidemic in addition to his responsibilities as the chief executive of the hardest hit state in the country. His ratings are high and it is quite reasonable to speculate that if the presidential election was next year, he would be the Democratic nominee.
How popular do you think Cuomo is with Trumpicans?
The other Queens bro abandoned Queens and New York for Florida where he now makes his legal residence. Ignorant as he is, he sensed that the United States was and is a divided country. He sensed that many Americans felt the same snub and putdown by elitists that he had when the Manhattan elite refused to recognize him as anything more than a narcissistic sleazeball real estate promoter who failed repeatedly.. He sensed that there was a political opportunity that he could exploit for his own advantage. He sensed that there was no benefit to trying to be the President of all America, of We the People America, of e pluribus unum America. Instead he picked a side and strove only to reach out to his people and not to those people.
It worked. As long as he is defending real Americans from those people, Trumpicans don’t care what else he might do…even if it is to make rich people richer and undermine America’s position in the world. All the shortcomings of his leadership in January to March in the COVID-19 epidemic (see New York Times Investigates the Brain of Donald Trump: President Has a Hissy Fit) are irrelevant as long as he sticks with his primary responsibility. He is their Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed Be his Name. But Trumpicans did not vote for him so they could lose their jobs, their businesses, their savings, and their way of life so he could help those people.
The issue of re-opening versus safety first is part of the culture wars, it is part of the Third Civil War. What may be a 9/11 or 12/7 in Democratic congressional districts is Fort Sumter in Trumpican congressional districts. We have seen Trumpican/Confederates marching in Michigan. We have heard Laura and Rush and Fox call for putting real Americans first now. We have heard sheriffs vowing civil disobedience rather than enforce restrictions on the right of American people to be free (see the Twilight Zone episode The Old Man in the Cave). As the weather improves and summer is upon us, the call to be able to move freely about the country and with each other will rise.
COVID-19 may do what collusion with Russia, attempted extortion in the Ukraine, and the sheer incompetence of the ignorant and immature President did not accomplish. It may turn Trumpicans against their Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed Be his Name. The bully has backed down to the governors and his feeble efforts at the bully pulpit are laughable. The more Trumpicans protest the restriction and the less their leader does to remove them despite the daily calls from Rush and Fox, the more Trumpicans may abandoned their savior who failed them in their moment of need. This is the first time in this administration when the desires of the Trumpicans and their savior may widely diverge. If he tells them to obey their governors, will they? If he doesn’t eliminate the restrictions and save their jobs, businesses, and way of life, will they still vote for him? If they start dying in droves because no area is safe and no state immune, will they see the light?
I have just learned that the wartime general has called for the liberation of Minnesota and Michigan. How far he will pursue this war remains to be determined. Fox will continually push him to assert his royal powers under Article 2. It is reasonable to predict that as the weather heats up so will the culture wars. COVID-19 will change the way America’s third Civil War will be fought.
When Esau and Jacob emerged from the womb there already was a struggle just as there was between the two houses of America at its birth. Whether the bros will follow the path of Isaac and Ishmael or Cain and Abel is now being determined. It will be the basis, often unstated, of the 2020 elections. Bonespur Boy will not be able to satisfy both the Trumpicans and the governors nor can the world’s worst negotiator mediate a settlement. What will he do? What will the American people do on Election Day (and by mail before then)?