While it hasn’t been discussed as much in recent days, America is still in the midst of a public health crisis.
There have been more than 105,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States over the past three months, and about 30,000 more are projected to die of the virus by August. In total, over 1.8 million Americans have been infected.
As the U.S. begins to reopen after months of stay-at-home restrictions, new COVID-19 hot spots are emerging, a reminder that this virus likely won’t be going away anytime soon.
As a consequence of the pandemic, the economy has crashed to a level not seen since the Great Depression. In the last 10 weeks, more than 40 million Americans have filed unemployment claims, with 2.1 million alone coming just last week.
While Donald Trump is hoping – for the sake of his reelection, of course – for a quick economic rebound, J.P. Morgan Chief Investment Officer Bob Michele estimated that it could take more than a decade for unemployment to fall back to pre-pandemic levels.
And now, with the horrific killing of George Floyd at the hands – and under the knee – of a Minneapolis police officer, the scab of racial injustice in the United States has been ripped open anew.
Thousands of Americans are marching – in a largely peaceful manner – in cities all across this country demanding justice not just for George Floyd, but for all the unarmed African Americans who continue to be needlessly killed by law enforcement officers.
On paper, these three crises alone are enough to stifle the morale of any American. In recent months, turning on cable news has become something of a masochistic activity.
But as disturbing as this moment in American history is, what makes it unprecedented isn’t necessarily the crises themselves. After all, this country has seen viral outbreaks, economic decline and racial tension before.
What makes this moment unique is that it comes at a time when the United States literally doesn’t have a president who is at least pretending to lead the country through them.
Trump’s fragile ego and gross incompetence allowed the coronavirus to spread
Donald Trump’s fragile ego, gross incompetence, and obsession with his own political survival allowed the virus to spread unchecked across the country for weeks.
To keep the stock market afloat, he talked down the virus. He wheeled out administration officials to tell the country that it was contained. He called it a hoax.
Once it became clear that the disease was spreading rapidly, Trump’s solution was daily press conferences where he would blame everybody else – the media, Democrats, state officials – for his failures and throw tantrums if he got a question he didn’t like.
Trump campaigned on an ‘America First’ agenda, and on the coronavirus he certainly kept that promise. Weeks of delay and dithering turned the United States into the epicenter of the virus. America now has – by far – more infections and deaths than any country in the world.
Promise made, promise kept.
Trump offers nothing to struggling Americans while trying to cover up his crashing economy
As millions of Americans started to lose their jobs due to an economy shutting down, Donald Trump’s main focus was to make sure his name was on a $1,200 stimulus check. At the time, he insisted that the economy was doing “very well.”
Now, in the midst of an economic crash, the White House is launching a cover-up of Trump’s flailing economy. Just this week, we learned that the administration will not be releasing its yearly economic forecast – a standard practice carried out every summer.
This comes after Trump was pressuring states back in March to not release data showing how many people were filing for unemployment.
Donald Trump’s incompetent response to this pandemic crashed the economy. Now he’s trying to cover up that failure instead of helping millions of Americans who are struggling because of it.
Fanning the flames of racism and violence
There are very few things Donald Trump is actually good at. He’s a man who has literally failed in every category of life, whether it’s being a terrible businessman, an unfaithful husband, or a corrupt and incompetent president.
But he has shown time and again that he is quite skilled at one thing in particular: fanning the flames of racism and violence in America. Heck, he kicked off his presidential campaign with a racist attack on Mexican immigrants.
The moment tensions boiled over in the George Floyd protests, Trump saw a fire and he instantly picked up a bucket of gasoline. Some of his extremist supporters appear to be following his lead.
On Twitter, Trump called the protesters thugs, suggested they should be shot, and even openly fantasized about unleashing dogs and weapons on them. When he emerged from his Twitter safe space and had an opportunity to calm the nation, he ran for cover.
Donald Trump doesn’t have any business being president even in the best of times, but during a moment of heightened racial tension, he’s the last man who should be in charge.
The silver lining: Nov. 3 is coming
Through all of this darkness, there is a silver lining: Nov. 3 is coming.
The American people will have an opportunity to elect a leader who will do what presidents of both parties have always attempted to do during moments of crisis: unify the country.
Donald Trump has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is unwilling and unable to meet this moment. Steady, unifying leadership simply isn’t in his DNA.
With a revolving door of crises wreaking havoc across the country, the American people need a stable, adult president who is going to lead right now, not a spineless internet troll who is only interested in pouring gasoline on this raging fire.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.