It’s a new year but our state’s ongoing once in a century mass death event continues as New Jersey’s COVID death toll closes in on 20,000 and our national government remains in the kind of turmoil we might associate with a nation without a long tradition of the peaceful transition of power.
A nation with the mightiest and most high-tech military in the world has been cornered by a deadly virus and predator leadership that’s trying to exploit a public health crisis to perpetuate its hold on power.
Like so much during the Trump administration, what was promised in the way of federal pandemic support to the states has failed to materialize in a spectacular fashion with the outgoing administration falling far short of their goal of vaccinating 20 million Americans by the end of 2020.
CNN reported that only 2.1 million people had gotten the vaccination, just a tenth of the goal of Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed.” This speed bump, which anyone who knows Donald Trump could have predicted, came as Colorado confirmed a case of the newest COVID strain from Britain which scientists say is not any more lethal than the original but far more contagious.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease physician, has said that 80 to 85 percent of the nation’s population would need to be inoculated for us to achieve so-called herd immunity—that would be more than 260 million Americans.
“At the current rate, it would take the United States approximately 10 years to reach that level of inoculation,” warned Washington Post columnist Leana Wen. “That’s right—10 years. Contrast that with the Trump administration’s rosy projections: Earlier this month, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar predicted that every American will be able to get the vaccine by the second quarter of 2021 (which would be the end of June). The speed needed to do that is 3.5 million vaccinations a day.”
While the United States, the world’s wealthiest nation and sole remaining superpower, it represents just 4 percent of the world’s population but has reported almost 20 percent of the earth’s 2 million COVID-19 deaths.
Here in New Jersey, with over 200 COVID deaths per 100,000, we account for 5.7 percent of the deaths but are just 2.77 percent of the nation’s population. “Put another way: if it were a country, the Garden State would have the highest COVID-19 per capita death toll in the world,” reported NJ Advance Media Dec. 14.
From the very beginning of the pandemic, President Trump played red states off of blue states even as he downplayed the seriousness of the virus misleading Americans that the highly contagious deadly virus was like the flu.
Rather than coordinate the nation’s pandemic response, Trump installed political operatives in the CDC twisted their public health messaging to suit the presidential campaign calendar, undermining the critical agency’s credibility when the nation’s states were looking to it for scientific based leadership.
Just like Trump’s reckless campaigning, this added to the body count and helped to accelerate the spread of the virus, which at various times people in the White House maintained was a goal of the administration pursuing herd immunity.
The November election was if anything a referendum on this unprecedented betrayal of the public trust with deadly consequences that will be felt by American families for generations to come. Over 81.28 million Americans voted for Biden, blowing past the previous record for the most votes cast for a President back in 2008 when President Barack Obama garnered 69.49 million votes.
Despite the certification of the states’ returns there’s been a sizeable faction of the Republican Party,
including New Jersey Congressman Jeff Van Drew, who want to end run the will of the American people as expressed in the November election and have the votes cast in swing states that went for Biden thrown out.
On January 6, Republican members of the House of Representatives, including several members of the U.S. Senate are planning to protest the formal certification of President-elect Joe Biden as President, despite the fact that all of President Trump’s lawsuits alleging voting fraud have been rejected by every court including the nation’s highest.
Moreover, despite the Trump campaign’s post-election challenges in the contested states, Biden’s victory in those states survived the labor-intensive process of hand recounts which also produced no evidence of voter fraud.
On Dec. 12, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to throw out the certified vote tallies from Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin because he charged the mail-in ballot process adopted by the states amidst the COVID pandemic violated the law and were subject to widespread fraud.
“Using the COVID-19 pandemic as a justification,” Paxton court filings explained that state election officials in the captioned states usurped their legislatures’ authority and unconstitutionally revised their states’ election statutes.”
The Texas Attorney General was joined by the state Attorneys General in Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.
126 Republican members of the House of Representatives, including Van Drew, aligned themselves with that Texas challenge that was rebuffed by the Supreme Court. Yet, this faction, with an eye on their own ambitions, have chosen to embrace Trump over abiding by their sworn duty to “support and defend the US Constitution….against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.”
In President-elect Biden’s Dec. 14 speech, given after the certification of the election returns, he described the Texas lawsuit as an effort to wipe out the votes of more than 20 million Americans, a “position so extreme, we’ve never seen it before, a position that refused to respect the will of the people, refused to respect the rule of law and refused to honor our constitution.”
Biden went on to proclaim the November results meant “faith in our institutions prevailed” and “the integrity of our elections” remained intact while suggesting now was the “time to turn the page as we’ve done throughout our history, to unite, to heal.”
But as Trump and his junta have repeatedly demonstrated throughout the pandemic, they have no interest in uniting and healing even in the midst of a once in a century mass death event if fostering division tightens their grip on power.
Their self-serving antics, pulled on a weary nation aching for just a shred of normalcy in a sea of misery and uncertainty, needs to be framed in posterity as the first line in their obituaries.