The Student
Opinion
Trump vs. Biden vs. COVID-19: a major election in tragic times
by Miri Hartley, 30/09/20

Somewhere along the line, the tides turned and it was no longer considered solely the job of liberals to condemn Trump. The President of the United States of America seemed to navigate the stages of grief, from denial (‘[the virus is] very much under control’), anger (‘We are the federal government. We are not supposed to stand on street corners during testing’) and bargaining (‘Just stay calm. It will go away’) without ever coming to acceptance: acceptance that he is no match for the wave of COVID-19 disaster that has swept the United States.

Enter Democrat Party nominee Joe Biden, right? A man who actually seems cognisant of the deaths of nearly two hundred thousand American citizens, both symbolically through his sombre black face mask and rhetorically in his carefully issued words to the press (‘[I will] be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives’ ). Comparing Biden and Trump’s actions towards the crisis is an echo of Theresa May’s seemingly cold treatment towards the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 which was widely scorned, especially compared to Jeremy Corbyn’s warm interactions with the residents and their families. Corbyn’s response to the tragedy was emotionally reactive to the extent that one resident referred to him as ‘one of us’. Except Jeremy Corbyn’s political party was undeniably squashed during the latest election. With the most recent presidential polls wavering between Trump and Biden daily, it’s very possible the same fate awaits the Democrats despite the publicly visible efforts of its figurehead.

The preferred method of controlling the coronavirus in the USA previously focused on controlling its movement. In a nutshell, protocol seemed initially unanimous within the states of America with forty eight states declaring a state of emergency in the first sixteen days of March. However, the autonomy of each state permitted a unique combination of respective freedoms – North and South Dakota, South Carolina and New Hampshire all restricted gatherings of fifty people and more whilst gatherings of any size were flat-out banned in seventeen states. But a mixed response and dubious mean figures have not cemented this approach as a success. After all, some detractors have complained that enforced rules such as face masks and out-of-state travel restrictions contravene what it means to be American. With restrictions yielding disputable results and tragedy yanking the nature of American patriotism into focus, the attitude towards eradicating coronavirus has subtly shifted within both parties from control to prevention, a seemingly inorganic transition. 

Trump has utilised the promise of a vaccine eagerly despite CDC director Robert Redfield hypothesising a year ‘minimum’ until the vaccine becomes widely available to the American public. In an interview with Fox and Friends, Trump helpfully condensed this estimation to a timeline of a few weeks, a bizarrely confident prediction for someone who defensively responded that he wasn’t ‘a doctor’ back in April. Joe Biden made no such claim as to the mainstream presence of the vaccine but dourly proclaimed that the American public could not trust Trump.

Behind the curtain of media attention, it seems the political parties of America continue to flail to achieve the mollifying of its public alongside an effective direction of action. The election is only two months away. The world watches and waits.

Image: The White House, via Flickr