Irish Examiner View: Fighting the Pandemic - USA shows how politics can implode

Even if the evolution of the fully opposable thumb was one of the vital toeholds in the conquest of the evolutionary Everest by homo sapiens, it is clear that hope, determination, and curiosity were every bit as important.
Irish Examiner View: Fighting the Pandemic - USA shows how politics can implode
US President Donald Trump has shown a consistent lack of empathy throughout the Covid-19 crisis

Even if the evolution of the fully opposable thumb was one of the vital toeholds in the conquest of the evolutionary Everest by homo sapiens, it is clear that hope, determination, and curiosity were every bit as important.

Mechanical advantage was, and is, without the imagination to exploit it, worthless.

Humanity, intuitively, stands on its toes, stretches its neck to try to see what might lie over the horizon.

At this moment, when so much is uncertain, when change is relentless and dramatic, threat so very real and tightening, that instinct becomes as much a defence as a catalyst for the response needed to contain the pandemic.

Hope moves from being a whispered possibility to a statement of intent. It assumes almost a physical force.

That hope manifests itself in many ways most of them positive but there is always someone who will exploit crisis. Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán may be one.

That country is to enact coronavirus legislation that includes jail terms for those who spread misinformation.

Critics of Orbán’s Fidesz party, which has a two-thirds parliamentary majority, warn that he will use the laws for something far more sinister than silencing quacks.

He is not alone.

Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, the volatile, aggressively right-wing and anti-science president has reportedly told his health minister he will sack him if he criticises his handling of the crisis.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is an admirer of President Trump.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is an admirer of President Trump.

That uno duce, una voce, put-down came at the weekend as Brasil’s number of confirmed Covid-19 cases rose to more than 3,900 and the death toll hit 114.

However, the harrumphing of Orbán and Bolsonaro pale compared to the gross ineptitude, ignorance and absolute absence of empathy shown by US president Trump.

The latest confirmation that he is dangerously out of his depth was yesterday’s announcement that the White House will extend social distancing guidelines until April 30 — a month longer than his initial 15-day timeline.

Yesterday’s decision by Amazon workers at a Staten Island depot to walk out over the decision to keep the facility open despite a confirmed case there seems a more accurate indication of events in New York — the new epicentre of the pandemic where the death toll passed 1,000 yesterday.

That dubious, shameful ranking was achieved because Trump rejected the advice of his scientific advisers, at least the few he had not sacked.

This raises a chilling question: why have the Democrats not found a candidate more certain, at least more likely, to prevent a second Trump presidency? Joe Biden is not plausible.

There are mutterings about New York governor Andrew Cuomo being named as a white knight candidate. That it is even being discussed indicates panic.

And why is any of this relevant as triage tents are set up outside Irish hospitals, as people die alone without the comfort of their loved ones? America is facing chaos because their politics have failed.

American politics is an extension of their endless culture war rather than expressions of hope.

This is a priceless lesson and as efforts to form the next government continue, one we ignore at our peril if we are to overcome this pandemic and its legacy — the next one too.

More in this section

Lunchtime
News Wrap

A lunchtime summary of content highlights on the Irish Examiner website. Delivered at 1pm each day.

Sign up
Revoiced
Newsletter

Our Covid-free newsletter brings together some of the best bits from irishexaminer.com, as chosen by our editor, direct to your inbox every Monday.

Sign up