Our country is based on freedom. It’s based on “We the people” not “I the President.”

First published in March 2020.

I was going to post about my nearing the age of 70 at a time when doctors are making life and death decisions partly based on age. But then I read this in today’s Washington Post:

“Behind the scenes, business leaders have lobbied (President) Trump not to invoke the (Defense Protection Act) and conservative advisers have warned the president that doing so would draw a backlash and could cut into his argument of running against socialism in the fall, said two administration officials.” (emphasis added)

Translation: Don’t use government (taxpayer) money to save (taxpayer) lives because it’ll take away your political argument that Democrats are “socialists.”

I imagine, too, those people advising him that way would like to focus the health efforts only in areas where Republicans dominate (OK, that’s a horrible thing to say. I should not have said it).

The President spent time traveling to Norfolk, Virginia, to watch the U.S. naval ship Comfort as it starts its voyage to New York City to serve as a backup medical outlet to the health care workers who are risking their lives and working too many hours to try saving patients’ lives. That’s what this president does in the time of crisis. He sends a ship that he said a week ago was already on its way, on its way.

I’ve had a least two Trump supporters in the last few days tell me virus isn’t his fault, yet he’s “doing a good job.” They have that half right.

I’ve been a Trump critic since the day he rode down the escalator in Trump Tower to announce his candidacy. I’ve always respected, I hope, anyone who disagrees with me. But since this man became President he has acted as if he’s the country’s CEO. He’s supposed to be a servant of the people, not the other way around.

And we don’t need a CEO in the Oval Office, we need a President. There is a huge difference. (one is that a CEO’s goal is to make a profit; a president’s role is to provide for the health of safety of the citizens. Doing that a does not waste money.)

We know the President cannot snap his fingers and make ventilators appear, any more that an auto factory can snap its fingers and immediately be a ventilator factory. But the President can order them to make the transformation rather than take their time on a “volunteer” basis. The New York Times reported that the government balked when it was told it would cost $1 billion to order enough ventilators, though a decision still hasn’t been made.

President Donald Trump, joined by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, sees off the USNS Comfort Saturday as she departs Naval Air Station Norfolk Pier 8 in Norfolk, Virginia and sets sail for New York City - 28 March 2020. / The White House

The President, in a Fox News (of course) interview said, “people want to go back to work, I’m hearing that loud and clear… Our country is based on that…”

Our country is not based on that. It’s based on freedom. It’s based on “We the people” not “I the President.”  The President of the United States’ job is to protect the health and safety of the American people. All of us.

He also said, “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You go into major hospitals sometimes and they’ll have two ventilators. All of a sudden they’re saying ‘can you order 30,000 ventilators?’”

Yes, Dr. Trump, that’s because there’s a damn coronavirus killing people all over the world. Ventilators can save lives.

There is no vaccine or treatment yet for this virus. People will die before either can be developed. Ventilators will save some of their lives. If the ventilators become surplus after the pandemic disappears, fabulous they’ve done their jobs.

If they are never needed again, the investment was well worth it. It will have made that CEO ‘profit’ in the form of human beings who did not die.

Trump also last week set a target of Easter to get “America opened again.” He said it would be beautiful to see packed churches on Easter. I’m not sure how his religious followers feel about that but I can tell you if that happens, there will be a lot of very sick people within 14 days after Easter. (No, I’m not a doctor, but I feel confident in that prediction … and I hope I’m wrong.)

Apparently Trump’s business advisors are telling him not to be a “socialist” and give even more money to help save lives. Apparently those same people are saying the economy needs to get back on track sooner than later. Or, they say, the President is hurting his chances of re-election.

The President, of course, doesn’t look to me for political advice but I feel pretty safe in saying: Forget the politics. The road to re-election is to get us – all of us – through this ordeal with as few lives lost as possible.

And making sure even those of us who are over or nearing 70 survive.🔷

[This piece was originally published on the Screaming Moderate and re-published in PMP Magazine on 30 March 2020, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Flickr/The White House. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)