By David Reuther
In the darkest days of the Great Depression, after the stock market crashed, half the banks had failed and 15 million people were out of work as the economy bottomed out, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt acted boldly to address the uncertainties and fear that gripped people. He united Americans.
Today, we are struggling with a situation similar to, but in some ways worse than, what was faced by FDR. Thanks to the worldwide pandemic and the administration’s response, not only are more than 30 million people out of work, but more than 180,000 are dead. Instances of police brutality have sparked nationwide protests.
Instead of promoting unity, however, President Donald Trump on Fox News’ Laura Ingraham show recently talked of people in the “dark shadows” who are “controlling” presidential candidate Joe Biden and “thugs” in dark clothing flying into Washington, D.C., to stage violence. On the same show, he claimed, falsely, that Portland, Oregon, had been burning for years.
Asserting that America has descended into chaos and its cities are burning, Trump wants us to forget that if this is true, it is happening on his watch.
To anyone old enough to remember the 1967 Detroit riots, the unrest that followed the 1968 murder of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., or the 1992 police beating of Rodney King, today’s Portland and Kenosha events barely register on the chaos scale.
Trump’s insertion of multi-agency federal troops and mercenaries inflamed these situations, not only in Portland but also right across from the White House at St. John’s Church near Lafayette Square. None of his actions have contributed to public safety.
And what are we to make of Trump, or Culpeper’s Jon Russell, implying that Black Lives Matter marches cause suburban women and children to quake in fear? This is an old dog whistle, which was employed by racist real-estate agents and bankers in the 1950s and ‘60s to keep minorities out of white neighborhoods.
Most of Culpeper’s neighborhoods are a rich combination of races, creeds, ages, and political viewpoints. Today’s “suburbanites” are nothing like those of 70 years ago.
This summer’s Black Lives March in Culpeper and hundreds more in cities and towns all across American were nonviolent examples of our right to peaceably assemble, guaranteed by our Constitution.
Some who may have been fearful appeared to be the St. Louis couple who brandished firearms at peaceful marchers as they passed their door and the 17-year-old in Kenosha who killed two protesters and wounded a third, in cold blood. The St. Louis couple was made heroes at the Republican National Convention. And Trump has defended, rather than condemned, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse.
Many parents have had to deal with their children’s fears of “monsters under the bed.” The patient parent turned on the lights to show that there was nothing there.
Now, America needs a responsible adult in the Oval Office who will “turn on the lights” and express empathy, inspire hope and faith in the future, and marshal the nation’s considerable resources to defeat the pandemic, attack racial and economic inequities, and restore America’s place in the world.
In contrast to Republican assertions, Joe Biden has responded to these crises as a unifier who understands the need to govern for the common good. He recently remarked, “I want a safe America, safe from COVID, safe from crime and looting, safe from racially motivated violence, safe from bad cops.”
Biden promotes law and order. He clearly stated, “Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. It is lawlessness plain and simple, and those who do it should be prosecuted.”
Vote like your lives depends upon it because they do.
David Reuther, a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer, is past chair of the Culpeper Democratic Committee. These are his personal observations.
New CDC guidelines quietly put out on Monday no longer recommend testing for asymptomatic people even if they’ve been in contact with someone who has the coronavirus. This new rule appears to reflect Trump’s frequent complaints that widespread testing is responsible for our climbing numbers of coronavirus cases. (He is incorrect.) He has repeatedly said we should slow the testing down. A White House spokesperson said the decision was science-based and not political; American Medical Association President Dr. Susan Bailey asked the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Department of Health and Human Services to “release the scientific justification” for the changes.
“The only plausible rationale is they want fewer people taking tests because, as the president has said, if we don’t take tests you won’t know that people are Covid positive and the number of Covid positive people will come down,” Cuomo told reporters Wednesday. “It fosters his failed policy of denial,” he said of the President.
The spokesperson told reporters that the White House Coronavirus Task Force had signed off on the new guidelines, but Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the task force told CNN that he was not part of any such discussion. “I am concerned about the interpretation of these recommendations and worried it will give people the incorrect assumption that asymptomatic spread is not of great concern. In fact, it is,” he said. Other members of the task force also expressed alarm about the new rules.
A sudden change in federal guidelines on coronavirus testing came this week as a result of pressure from the upper ranks of the Trump administration, a federal health official close to the process tells CNN, and a key White House coronavirus task force member was not part of the meeting when the new guidelines were discussed.