Column: Upcoming U.S. General Elections

October 28, 2020

[Opinion column written by Glenn Fubler]

2020 has been exceptional in many ways; with COVID 19 and the uncommon drama of the upcoming U.S. General Elections

The Pandemic spread across the globe, with varied impacts in different jurisdictions. Most countries responded reasonably. However, the United States, with less than 5% of the world’s population, has 20% of the COVID deaths; a sub-par performance related to ignoring the advice of science.

In May 2020, The Lancet – Britain’s preeminent scientific journal since 1823 – expressed anxiety regarding the Trump Administration’s undermining the U.S. Centre of Disease Control [CDC]. This journal’s editorial highlighted the harm of the Administration’s misguided policies.

It concluded: Americans must put a president in the White House, come January 2021, who understands that public health should not be guided by partisan politics.

In the past couple of weeks there have been similar editorials by two of the leading American scientific publications, focused on the upcoming Election.

Scientific American; for the first time in its 175 year history felt compelled to support a candidate for this upcoming Presidential Poll.

Additionally, the New England Journal of Medicine – also making an exception over their 208 year-history – has published an editorial entitled ‘Dying in a Leadership Vacuum.’

Both publications had remained non-partisan for two centuries with histories of integrity, but felt that exceptional circumstances required ‘exceptional’ steps.

Scientific American made the point:

… Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people because he rejects evidence and science. The most devastating example is his dishonest and inept response to the COVID 19 pandemic which has cost more than 190,000 Americans their lives by mid-September.

The pandemic would strain any nation and system, but Trump’s rejection of science and public health measures has been catastrophic in the U.S.

The Scientific American also noted that Trump had undermined other science-based programs – notably those addressing the environment. They took the exceptional step of endorsing candidate Joe Biden, based on his evident commitment to being guided by science and health expertise.

The New England Journal of Medicine has made no such endorsement. However, their editorial clearly indicts the Trump Administration’s handling of COVID 19. They question their squandering the advantages for pandemic-handling, provided them by both the Bush II and Obama Administrations.

The Journal editorial points out that the current leadership: “… have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy…the magnitude of this failure is astonishing”. The Journal notes that America’s poor performance on “testing and tracing” – ranks the superpower below numerous countries with per capita-budgets, a tiny fraction of that of the U.S.

The Journal editorial concludes: “We should not abet [the current Administration] and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs”.

In Bermuda, we see first-hand, the exceptional handling of the pandemic by our neighbours. Of course, our tiny size gives us great advantage. However, our success is clearly based on our Government’s response; following science and successful jurisdictions, as well as fostering community solidarity.

By contrast, in the face of 225,000 COVID deaths, thus far, President Trump has increased polarization. While the body-politic of the United States has been rooted in division – notably regarding race – the current President remains exceptional.

Contributions to an exceptional election season, include:

  • Attacks on the Postal Service, undermining the centuries-long facility for mail-in voting – especially important during the pandemic.
  • Tactics geared to discourage voting. Lines in early balloting have voters waiting for hours – up to 10 in Georgia; drop-off voting in Texas reduced to one collection centre per county [for populations up to 4 million].
  • President Trump using dog whistles in order to signal his goons, attempting to terrorize voters – e.g. FBI uncovering a Trump-supporting militia conspiring to kidnap Michigan’s Governor; formation of Trump Army, ostensibly to prevent corruption at the polls – geared to discourage voters; especially in black and Latino districts.
  • President Trump refusing to confirm that he would allow a peaceful transition if he loses the election.

MLK reminded us that truth pressed to Earth will rise. In spite of challenges, early voting has occurred at record levels with more that 60 million ballots cast to-date [44% of the total ballots cast in 2016].

While we have no formal role in our neighbour’s election, Bermudians and others sharing the planet could offer our thoughts and prayers for the people of the United States, as they ballot for an outcome that will impact us all.

- Glenn Fubler


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