There’s a price to be paid for living in Trump’s orbit; objective truth has to be disregarded. You have to be willing to blindly accept the lies he tells many times a day, usually by Twitter, which are reinforced by media outlets and social media accounts that support him. Of the tens of thousands of lies we’ve heard and learned to ignore, nothing has been as dangerous and deadly as the misinformation he’s spewed about the Covid-19 pandemic raging across the United States. While many who become infected have followed guidelines about masks and social distancing, there are substantial numbers who have not, and their rates of infection and death are climbing precipitously. They are Trump’s Mad Maskless Covid Deniers.
Trump’s Alternative Facts
These Trump disciples accept everything he’s said about the virus. They are true believers who do not question or challenge his pronouncements, regardless of the number of times actual facts present reality. Of course that’s the beauty of believing “alternative” facts. Delusion substitutes for reality, and belief in the delusion provides a false sense of safety and power.
It’s amazing that more Americans didn’t die from ingesting bleach or some other disinfectant as suggested by the stable genius. The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) reported that cases of “accidental” poisonings from household disinfectants rose to 3401 in March, 3,609 in April and 966 in the first 10 days of May. This tragic rise in monthly cases was more than double the 1,600-1,700 reported in past years. Needless to say that regrettable experience did not discourage the Mad Maskless Covid Deniers. Trumpism is their new religion, and they are believers.
Nothing can or will dissuade them from accepting Trump’s words as gospel. Not his consciously misleading predictions of how few people would be affected, or that it would disappear at Easter. Then, the warm weather would make it disappear like a miracle. Dr. Fauci’s warning about a second wave in the fall was totally wrong, and finally his October sermon that we were just rounding the curve when the virus would just disappear. Not even a recording of his voice acknowledging the seriousness of the virus was enough to shake the deniers’ faith.
No Need to Wear a Mask
But worst of all was Trump’s refusal to endorse wearing a mask. He’d look silly, he said, greeting heads of state, kings and queens, with a mask on. It just wasn’t for him. And in his vanity, selfishness and lack of concern for the health of his followers, he created a cult of Mad Maskless Covid Deniers. If their leader could deny reality and refuse to follow the advice of medical doctors and other scientists, so could they.
Inevitably, then, wearing a mask became a political statement and a symbol of fealty, not a proven instrument to reign in the pandemic. No sir, these brave patriots would not wear those sissy masks. Nor would they pander to recommendations about social distancing and restrictions on gathering in large groups. After all, if Trump had the right to go maskless, and hold large gatherings, his followers had the same inalienable right. It’s in the Constitution, isn’t it? It’s about freedom, and the government can’t take away your freedom. Damn the health of the country, the strain on our hospitals and healthcare systems, on the economy and schools.
Republican Governors Join the Maskless Deniers
Certain Republican governors, who no doubt knew better, joined the faux political battle. Following Trump’s lead, they refused requests for mask mandates by more health minded mayors and health officials in rival political areas within their states. They rebuffed pleas to enact recommended restrictions, and welcomed large gatherings, prioritizing the potential economic benefits. But again, there’s a price to pay for ignoring reality. As predicted by Dr. Fauci and others, cooler weather brought a dramatic uptick in Covid-19 cases. Some governors felt compelled to take action as hospitalizations surged and hospitals reached capacity. In differing ways, they began to introduce mask mandates, limit the size of gatherings and place restrictions on facilities known to be Covid spreaders, like bars and restaurants.
But these new regulations apparently don’t apply to the Mad Maskless Covid Deniers. Until recently, North and South Dakota, both Trump strongholds, shunned face mask use. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that last week North Dakota had the highest COVID-19 mortality rate of any state or even any other country in the world. South Dakota trailed closely behind, winning the position third worst in the world. With the threat of overwhelming the state’s hospitals, North Dakota‘s Governor has now issued a mask mandate and placed a limit on the size of gatherings. Similar wisdom has not yet reached South Dakota’s Governor, who won’t enforce a statewide mask mandate.
Rationality and the Cult of Trumpism
A rational person, acknowledging reality, would put two and two together and recognize that wearing a mask is crucial to slow the spread of Covid-19. If not wearing a mask is a political statement, it’s a proclamation of stupidity and misplaced loyalty. Unfortunately, Trump’s base refuse to allow the facts to confuse them, a subject I covered in an earlier blog, The Cult of Trumpism.
As far as the cult is concerned, Trump is a kind of deity, the personification of their aspirations, beliefs and ideals. They can attend a rally where he is incoherent, or deriding people he praised in the recent past, but it matters not. They see the golden glow around his head, and are not put off by knowing it is fake. If he said it, it is their truth. He repeatedly scoffed that the Covid-19 virus was a hoax, and it became part of the cult gospel. They disavow the fact that Trump, his wife, son, presidential staff and many attending his white house parties and campaign events suffered from the disease. The sad fact that Herman Cain, a Trump supporter, died of Covid weeks after attending a Trump rally is of no consequence, and does not cause even a ripple in their delusional bubble.
It Can’t be Covid!
The Covid-19 pandemic is raging across the United States again. This time it is striking many of the areas where Mad Maskless Covid Deniers live with Category 5 intensity. An exhausted and disgusted South Dakota nurse reported that she has very sick Covid-19 patients who require 100% oxygen to breathe, yet cannot accept they actually have the illness. How could they? Trump said it’s a hoax and he’s never wrong. It must be some other disease—pneumonia, cancer maybe? They shout their outrage at her until they are intubated and attached to a ventilator. Or they lie in bed alone, and instead of face timing loved ones to say goodbye, waste their last gasps to insist, “This can’t be happening. It’s not real.”
Donald Trump, a Despicable Character
Donald Trump lies. We all know that. He bullies, he sulks, he pushes queens out of the way. He wears orange makeup, a toupee, and has tantrums in private. He enjoys exacting revenge. He is a bigot, a racist, a supporter of White Supremacists and Neo-Nazis. He brags, he cheats; he is a world-class snake oil salesman. He despises Obama for being Black, smart, handsome, respected, charming and loved. He despises that which he envies. His narcissism is legion and his ego is fragile.
But of all these despicable and tragic characteristics, his systemic mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic and disregard for the country he leads, including his own loyal, devoted supporters, reveals his lack of conscience and moral compass in bold relief. He apparently has begun to believe he is actually Superman, and if the virus is his Kryptonite, he will simply walk away. He knows Covid-19 is real and a deadly killer. But his personal disdain for Dr. Fauci, and his unwillingness to acknowledge CDC guidelines, along with his political calculations and fear of looking silly, made it impossible to mitigate the virus as leaders in so many countries have done. He is a failure as a leader for sure, although the Mad Maskless (dying) Covid Deniers reject that premise. But more importantly, he is a failure, a loser, if you will, as a human being.
The Life They Save
Trump will not change. He will not have a press conference and tell his supporters to wear masks—there’s nothing for him in that pronouncement, which makes it moot. He has not attended Covid task force briefings in many weeks, and has not once mentioned the rising death toll which has now reached over a quarter of a millions Americans. As we head into a winter of heartbreaking tragedy that rivals World War II, one can only hope that responsible friends and family pressure the Mad Maskless Covid Deniers to adopt the practice of wearing masks. The life they save may be a loved one, or even their own.