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The Virus is Back; So is Trumpism

Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

Despair is worse after hope is briefly ignited. I don’t know about you, but I was elated earlier this spring when it seemed as if Donald Trump and COVID-19 were gone, and Joe Biden appeared to be getting the nation rapidly back on track.

Now, much is sliding backwards. It’s not Biden’s fault. It’s Trump’s ongoing legacy.

The new delta strain of the virus requires, according to the CDC, that we go back to wearing masks inside in public places where the virus is surging, even if we’re fully inoculated.

This would be little more than a small disappointment and inconvenience were it not for Republicans using it as another opportunity to politicize public health.

Last week, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy responded to the new CDC recommendation with the kind of unhinged hyperbole Trumpers have perfected. “The threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state,” he tweeted.

Republican politicizing of public health will get worse if the delta variant continues to surge. At some point vaccines will have to be mandated because being inoculated is not solely a matter of personal choice. Herd immunity is a common good. If infections mount, that common good can only be achieved if nearly everyone is vaccinated.

 

But those eager to exploit the virus’s resurgence — the know-nothings, Trump wannabes, vilely ambitious political upcomers, Tucker Carlsons and similarly cynical entertainers — are already howling about “personal freedom” threatened by “socialism.”

The investigation into the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 is further evidence of how far the Republican Party has descended into opportunistic treachery.

We need to know what happened and why if we are to have half a chance of avoiding a repeat. Just as with the history of systemic discrimination and brutality against Black people in America — which Republicans are calling “critical race theory” and trying to ban from classrooms — the truth shapes our responses to the future.

Here again, the dispiriting aspect of the present moment is Republican denial and obfuscation.

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