Editorial: Everything Trump touches dies—and right now that means Florida

07-14-20 Charlie ChaplinCharlie Chaplin in the movie ‘The Great Dictator.’

Everything Trump touches dies: it’s the title of a book and never was a title more accurate, more appropriate and now more literal, especially here in Florida.

Trump has really touched Florida. He’s an official resident, he has his second White House in Florida as well as a golf club in Doral. He dominates the Republican political landscape, the Party and its two senators. He also handpicked the state’s governor.

And sure enough, his touch is killing Florida and Floridians. His incompetence, delusions and arrogance at the national level in handling the pandemic have, as of this writing, resulted in 3,361,042 confirmed American coronavirus cases and 135,582 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

In his adopted state 4,381 Floridians have died since March 1 and 295,312 have been infected to date, according to Florida’s Community Coronavirus Dashboard (the one posted by dissident scientist Rebekah Jones). On Sunday, July 12, Florida hit a record 15,300 new cases; the next day it reached 12,624.

All this would be bad enough but Trump’s disastrous mismanagement at the national level has been imitated on the state level by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

Florida’s path from haven to hotspot starts with Trump’s denial of the seriousness of the coronavirus threat, his characterization of warnings of it as a Democratic hoax and his dismissive assurances that it would disappear “like a miracle.” Then, when its devastation couldn’t be denied, he resisted strong measures to contain it and rushed to open the economy for the sake of his re-election.

DeSantis mirrored the president’s performance almost word for word and gesture for gesture. He denied the seriousness of the threat, failed to prepare for it and dismissed warnings as exaggerations. Then he failed to provide statewide guidance for responding and rushed to re-open the economy. When infections and deaths began to spike, he accused the media of using the spectacle to gain ratings.

Now two events in Florida are threatening to turn the spike into an eruption: unrestricted re-opening of schools—an all-caps demand that Trump made on Twitter—and bringing the Republican National Convention to Jacksonville. There is no telling what the rate of infection will be and how many deaths will result if these two events occur as Trump demands.

Trump is on his way to causing more American deaths from coronavirus than Americans killed by Adolf Hitler during World War II.

(Between June 1944 and May 8, 1945, there were 552,117 US casualties in the European theater of operations, of which 104,812 were killed in action, according to the US Department of Defense.)

The question that arises from all this is: Given Trump’s glaring incompetence, the demonstrated danger of his delusions and the clear path to disaster that he continues pursuing, how long will Florida politicians in positions of power—or aspiring to positions of power—allow themselves to be led by a man whose course clearly leads to catastrophe? How long will they blindly follow him?

Certainly, there seems no answer in Florida where the governor, better educated than his mentor, shows no signs of independent thought. In Southwest Florida the Republican candidates up and down the ballot make a point of going to ever greater extremes in their praise and defense of this person whose decisionmaking seems insane.

Every day, every person who dies from this plague rebukes this man and his tweets. But throughout the peninsula of Florida there’s only silence from the members of his party and the people scratching and scrambling to get votes.

In 1940 Charlie Chaplin released his anti-Nazi film, The Great Dictator. In it, Chaplin as an imposter dictator gives a final speech against dictatorship that sounds hauntingly relevant today.

“You are not machines!” he tells his listeners. “You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate—the unloved and the unnatural!”

It’s time for Florida’s leaders and voters to stop being machines and start thinking hard and independently about what’s best for themselves, their state, their nation and humanity—and not just what’s best for Donald Trump.

Liberty lives in light

© 2020 by David Silverberg



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