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Got a beef with establishment Democrats? I do--more than a few.
I worked for a once-thriving factory town newspaper in Ohio that today operates out of a hamburger stand. Bipartisan trade policies over the years were toxic to the local steel industry without the workers getting the much-ballyhooed retraining that free trade boosters talked about. Ads and subscriptions fell when plants closed and household budgets shrank. The Democrats too often have turned their backs on working people and their unions. Oh, and, yes, Dems have engaged in their share of sleaze and other sins. Eons ago I personally revealed that Connecticut Sen. Abraham Ribicoff had invested secretly and illegally in a CIA-occupied building, a story that made the NBC evening news without any follow-up from Democrats on the Senate ethics committee.
So why am I voting this November for one of the most establishment Democrats of all, Joe Biden, despite manifold questions in areas ranging from conflicts of interest to me-too issues and a slew of others such as his outrageous vote to overturn the Glass-Steagall Act's protections against Wall Street greed?
The biggest reason, even considering Donald Trump's authoritarian ways, callousness and deliberate cruelty, is his stunning ineptness as an administrator and the consequent spike in deaths from the Trump Virus, as I and others have called it. Let's cut to the chase. Trump could kill me. I'm not only well north of 60, I also have heart and lung issues. I'm still extra-functional: my heart stent works, and I can walk for miles and even have a shot at making it to my 90s. But not if I succumb to the Trump Virus. Of course, I worry even more about the world at large, but the sentence "Trump could kill me" crystalizes the existential threat at the most visceral level. You're welcome to think the same words. The virus does not always spare the young, who, even if they survive, may struggle with weakened hearts and other organs.
We can always undo Joe's unsavory deals with the corporate world and push him toward saner policies on climate change and healthcare, including the universal variety (millions of additional others need to be able to benefit from the same level of care I've enjoyed). Reincarnating dead Americans, including maybe me, isn't so easy. Just why should we trust our fate to a psychopathic and narcissistic lunatic who raised the possibility of Americans using disinfectants to rid their lungs of coronavirus? I'll always remember how Dr. Deborah Birx, among the President's top public health experts, then paled at one of Trump's campaign rallies disguised as a briefing session. This "very stable genius" is impervious to advice from world-class health professionals and for a moment even seemed ready to disband his anti-virus taskforce. We already know how he stands on life vs. money: "Will some people be affected? Yes. Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open and we have to get it open soon."
In the scariest way, I've got skin in this game. I can't stop thinking of the monster-buffoon in the Oval Office. I think of him when I must wipe my doorknob or wash my hands repeatedly, or read of an acquaintance's virus-related death, or video-chat with my internist rather than see him in person. I think of Trump when I learn of supermarket clerks, not just nurses and policemen, dying like traditional first responders. Of course, our socioPOTUS didn't cause the virus or every death, but his delayed response to it led and will lead to thousands of unnecessary ones, especially if similar calamities terrorize us in the future. The New York Times, the Washington Post and others have documented Trump's anti-virus bungles and shown that he knew early on of the threat (here, here and here). But the most damning facts come from projections of how Trump could have prevented most American deaths even if the Chinese themselves bumbled in dealing with the virus. Two epidemiologists wrote in the Times April 14:
"On March 16, the White House issued initial social distancing guidelines, including closing schools and avoiding groups of more than 10. But an estimated 90 percent of the cumulative deaths in the United States from Covid-19, at least from the first wave of the epidemic, might have been prevented by putting social distancing policies into effect two weeks earlier, on March 2, when there were only 11 deaths in the entire country. The effect would have been substantial had the policies been imposed even one week earlier, on March 9, resulting in approximately a 60 percent reduction in deaths."
With more than 70,000 Americans already now dead, we've surpassed the 58,000+ deaths from the Vietnam War, and Trump has even encouraged protests against social distancing protections. By one estimate, 3,000 Americans a day could be dying in June, the equivalent of a daily 9/11. Trump bin Laden. Just what else to expect? You can argue that it didn't matter that Trump got rid of the top White House official dealing with global health security, along with his team. But in terms of future preparedness, who can ignore Trump's efforts to cut back funding to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Health? And how about his ongoing contempt for international health organizations, as shown by his efforts to defend the World Health Organization. As made clear in countless articles and biographies, the monster-buffoon just does not play well with others despite the need for a united effort against a global pandemic. Like a Mafia don, this ego-maniac wants everyone to have to court him.
Certainly, that's true of Trump's eagerness to steal away masks and other supplies ordered by localities and states, so that everyone must suck up to the First Bully and his flunkies. At the same time, due to the Trump Administration's lack of foresight, it isn't as if we have a surplus of masks and other protective gear anyway--despite the pre-virus pleas of public health professions. Nor do we have enough testing kits. A very possible reason is Trump's aversion to accurate information. Fixated on his re-election, he would r ather that we not know the true numbers of victims. And a decent contact-tracing effort coordinated by the feds? Forget it.
No, Joe Biden, the only realistic alternative to Trump, is not exactly my dream candidate, just as Hillary Clinton wasn't (I voted against her and for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary). But at least Biden isn't Donald Trump. The real Trump fears Biden enough to have gone to elaborate lengths to try smear him by way of the phony Ukraine-related accusations, and most of the polls so far validate the president's concerns. Good! In the other direction, countless older people and others dread the threat of a second Trump term. We're not talking about whether Trump is likable--rather, if he is sane and rational, which he, of course, is not. The semi-literate and half-senile Trump can't even absorb the usual PowerPoints. Joe Biden, 77, while not the Biden of yesteryear, still has the mental horsepower to be president if he'll listen to experts on issues such as public health. Going by his track record, he will.
Wanted Bernie or maybe even Marianne Williamson? Fine, but if you care about the actual election, not the fantasy one, you'll vote for Biden--however reluctantly. Think of this as the electoral version of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Number One is to stave off a second Trump term, as Sen. Sanders would be the first to acknowledge. At age 78, he of all people can understand the horrors of the Trump Virus--not to mention the risks of relying on Demented Don to avoid nuclear war, especially with the possibility of the next Korean president being as wacky as Kim Jong-un.
In the wake of all the Republican election cheating, abetted by our sleazy Supreme Court, which forced thousands of Wisconsin voters to imperil their lives to vote in person, we anti-Trumpists must come through in November. Members of the monster's Authoritarian Party have a pet expression, Trump Derangement Syndrome, aka TDS, which Wikipedia defines as "term for criticism of negative reactions to United States President Donald Trump that are perceived to be irrational." But what if Trump himself is the irrational one? The Clorox bizarreness offers a definitive answer. Despite Biden's zillion and one flaws, at least he is not a nuke-empowered mental case dangerous to the whole planet. If the former VP faced a Romney or a Bush, yes, progressive purists could enjoy the luxury of voting against him or sitting out the general election. But not this time. The stakes are even higher.
Anyone who feels otherwise, given Trump's unprecedented lack of fitness for office, is suffering from Biden Derangement Syndrome. In other situations, BDS would not exist, given all of Biden's genuine negatives about which we can be perfectly rational. But everything is relative. Trump is scary enough in countless ways to make even Biden look benign and angelic by comparison. If you value your life or at least your parents' or grandparents', turn off your BDS. You can always switch it back on when Trump is out of the way.