Biden, Sanders Remind Us What It’s Like To Have An Actual President
Donald Trump's presidential address Wednesday about the coronavirus crisis was a disaster. This is because Trump lacks the empathy to uplift people during challenging times. He also lacks the intelligence and vision to lay out a practical plan that would keep Americans from jumping out their windows. He couldn't even read his deranged speech correctly. Also he lies.
Thursday, we heard from two superior presidential options, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. The remaining Democratic presidential candidates, excluding the random Tulsi, addressed the American people like leaders with functioning brains. It was both comforting and depressing, because we are stuck with President Dumbass until next January or when we're all dead, whichever comes first.
Biden's speech was great. His entire campaign was built around this particular moment: Who do you want in charge when there's a crisis or national tragedy? He exuded competence and maturity. He reminded us that when the shit gets deep, we need someone who's a little “overprepared."
BIDEN: The world ... officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Being overly dismissive is only going to hurt us and further advance the spread of the disease, but neither should we panic or fall back on xenophobia. Labeling COVID-19 a foreign virus does not displace accountability for the misjudgments that have [been] taken thus far by the Trump administration.
Let me be crystal clear. The coronavirus does not have a political affiliation. It will infect Republicans, independents and Democrats alike and will not discriminate based on national origin, race, gender or zip code. It well touch people in positions of power as well as the most vulnerable in our society. And it will not stop. Banning all travel from Europe or any other part of the world may slow it, but as we've seen it will not stop it. And travel restrictions based on favoritism and politics rather than risk will be counterproductive.
Biden isn't just a backseat driver. Back In January, he called out Trump's response to the epidemic in a USA Today op-ed titled “Trump Is The Worst Possible Leader To Deal With The Coronavirus." He didn't even need to say more -- that summed it up so well -- but he laid out the existing problems that have since blown up in our faces we are no longer allowed to touch.
From the op-ed:
Trump has rolled back much of the progress President Obama and I made to strengthen global health security. He proposed draconian cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for International Development — the very agencies we need to fight this outbreak and prevent future ones.
He dismissed the top White House official in charge of global health security and dismantled the entire team. And he has treated with utmost contempt institutions that facilitate international cooperation, thus undermining the global efforts that keep us safe from pandemics and biological attacks.
Yesterday, Biden continued to express disbelief that Trump had screwed us over so completely for no apparent reason besides petty resentment of Barack Obama or anyone else smarter than he is. Biden has also assembled a coronavirus task force of smart people who aren't Jared Kushner. This includes Affordable Care Act architect, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel.
Biden offered a clear “road map" for what America needs to do RIGHT NOW. This ranged from improving “surge capacity" at hospitals to ensuring poor children whose schools are closed have access to nutritious meals. He rightly called it a “national disgrace" that so many Americans don't have paid sick leave and he said his priority would be helping low-income workers not “Google or Goldman."
Which brings us to Bernie Sanders:
Watch live: Bernie Sanders delivers remarks on coronavirus www.youtube.com
It's not a shock that Sanders focused more on the economic impact on working people than on stock portfolios. He addressed how this crisis underscores the need for Medicare for All, so Americans aren't reluctant to see a doctor when they're sick. Lower income people were also hit the hardest during the 2008 financial crash. Many never fully recovered, and that could happen again as small businesses are already closing. Sanders called for a national moratorium on evictions, home foreclosures, and utility shutoffs during the crisis.
SANDERS: It is an absolute moral imperative that our response -- as a government, as a society, as business communities, and as individuals -- meets the enormity of this crisis.
As people work from home and are directed to quarantine, it will be easy to feel like we are in this alone, or that we must only worry about ourselves and let everyone else fend for themselves.
That is a very dangerous mistake. First and foremost, we must remember that we are in this together.
Now is the time for solidarity. We must fight with love and compassion for those most vulnerable to the effects of this pandemic.
Some people consider Sanders a “one-trick" pony who couldn't rise to a situation like this where you can't just yell at a billionaire, but I'm glad to see both candidates highlighting the economic impact on working people. Seattle shut down barely a week ago and already some people are at the “sell a kidney" contingency stage. Even during a supposed boom economy, people living paycheck to paycheck had tenuous grip on financial security. Sanders and Elizabeth Warren campaigned the loudest on the fact that everything wasn't all roses for everyone even when the Dow was healthy. It's easy to forget that, for the privileged among us.
This primary has arguably been a debate about whether we just remove Trump and restore decency and a sense of normality, or whether we have far more work to do evening the playing field. My hope is that the next Democratic administration will feel the urgency to do both.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."