If there are no consequences for “bad” political behavior, “bad” economic behavior, or “bad” public health behavior, then “bad” actors will always be winners. Does that make the earnest compliers, the empathizers, the pragmatic problem solvers chumps?
Matt Gaetz said that bringing earmarks back is worse than child trafficking. Earmarks were brought back to grease the wheels of bipartisanship, most likely. They are a part of politics that we find distasteful and that people fought to end. Will they work to win votes from the adamantly inflexible and lockstep Republicans in Congress? I doubt it. If Republicans can find a way they will continue to withhold any participation in Democrats’ approaches (stall or kill bills) and still ‘take the money and run.’
I don’t think I even need to discuss the other half of Gaetz’ cynical analogy, an obvious attempt to belittle the serious anathema of child trafficking in order to minimize the consequences of his probably real lack of values. The question of whether a man who draws such a revealingly amoral analogy should participate in our national government should have only one answer, a resounding “no”. However, there will most likely be no consequences.
Trump’s approach to the pandemic was to constantly downplay the virility of the disease. He focused on his “beautiful economy,” even as the entire world was shutting down. Can America ignore the rest of the globe and conduct a good economy all by itself? The answer is “no.” Does America want a leader that values the economy more than American lives (well, he says, they were old people, they were poor people, they were people of color, they were disposable people)? There seem to be no consequences for a President and a Party with such questionable values.
Health guidelines told us that masking would help us avoid catching the virus and allow Americans to go back to work and yet, oddly, a president who cared only about economics made wearing a mask a political test. Half of Americans turned masking into an attack on their personal freedom and therefore, the US Constitution. They were willing to take away the personal freedom of other Americans to wear masks even up to and including using bullying and violence to attack the “mask nerds and traitors,” as if we were all on the playground at school, or at a Nazi rally. There were few if any repercussions for this behavior except possibly being asked to leave a Walmart. There were a number of governors who legitimized ignoring common sense health rules. Yet there is no data to show that these unmasked states suffered more deaths than masked states because the cause-effect threads are difficult to trace.
Did a defiant, or Trump-compliant governor like Ron DeSantis bring any calamity down on Florida? He refused most of the advice of health experts and Florida actually gained in population. Did he skate? It looks like he won by ignoring science and common sense. It has us wondering if there are any consequences at all for choosing economics over human lives. It’s difficult to tell how many deaths resulted from DeSantis’s disregard of health precautions because people traveled to the state to party and went back to homes all over America to spread COVID-19. DeSantis looks like a winner, right down to the arrogant grin on his tiny round face. Why is he winning? It makes bad behavior look good. Small wonder that half of America is shocked and mystified. Even if there are repercussions there is a media that puts a positive spin on every negative outcome.
Now half of America has decided to believe that the vaccine designed to end this pandemic will kill them, or have unknown future ramifications, and they are most likely the same Americans whose rights were offended by wearing masks. While accusing the left of anarchy, their behavior is far more likely to lead to the defiance of laws. But now the non-maskers and the non-vaccinators are stuck with each other. Still no repercussions? We’ll find out, but it may not bring anyone any happiness.
No consequences for inciting violence, no repercussions for sedition, for denying science, for betraying the integrity of free and fair elections, for trashing truth, and stealing tax dollars and so many “bad” behaviors carried out right out in the open and then denied by brash lies. Impunity was the word in the media today. Impunity is kissing the ring of the worst President America has ever had, a President we ought to shun. Half of America still wants this man who insists that evil is good back in the Oval Office. All we seem able to do is plead with the Universe to bring on the consequences please. The Universe, however, does not seem to intervene in human affairs.
If all the negative consequences of Trumpism are unknown until some future time, if we don’t want to play his game by fighting back and digging into the real present day repercussions of “bad” political behavior, if we have no stomach for the battles we obviously face, we will become a majority party with no power, pounded into dust by a fascist sensibility fostered by a media without a conscience, and America will exist in name only. Those who should have lost the “game” will win and the new game will be rigged against morality and against “we the people,” perhaps forever. Winning matters, but how you win also matters in the long run or it should. How reassuring is ‘the long run’ to short-lived humans anyway?