On Trump and Covid

Oct 31, 2020
On this page, I try very hard not to be political. I have never endorsed a candidate, encouraged my followers to vote on a particular piece of legislation, etc., but I am going to make an exception this one time because Donald Trump is one of the most serious threats to science that we have ever faced. His blind denial of evidence is eroding public trust in science and the value of experts, and it is costing thousands of lives. I’m not just talking about COVID here, his environmental policies are also causing irreparable harm. So, I cannot, in good conscience, stand back without saying anything. Many other science advocates and scientific societies have reached the same conclusion, and this year has seen an unprecedented number of science groups that usually avoid politics coming out and endorsing Biden because four more years of Trump is too grave of a threat to ignore. So I am going to do likewise. If you are an American who cares about science, rational thought, human life, and/or the environment, vote for Biden. He’s not perfect. I disagree with him on a lot, but Trump has to be stopped, and voting for Biden is the only way to do so (see comment at end about third party candidates).
So why am I so adamant that Trump has to go? That would take several books, but let’s hit the highlights.
COVID-19 Concept Free Stock Photo - Public Domain Pictures
First, his response to COVID has been abysmal and is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans. The USA has one of the highest death rates (per capita) of any country in the world. If you look at how almost every other country responded, their response was better, and far fewer of their citizens have died.
Trump has repeatedly lied about COVID. He has downplayed its seriousness, incorrectly compared it to the flu, falsely claimed that we have lots of cases simply because we do more testing, repeatedly ignored experts and publicly disagreed with them, and said over and over again that we are “rounding the corner” or “its going to go away” even while cases spike and experts warn that things are getting worse.
A real leader would have listened to experts and used their advice to make plans to save lives rather than, as Kushner described it, trying to “get[] the country back from the doctors.” A real leader would have told the American people how serious this is rather than downplaying it. A real leader would have told the American people that we have to take this seriously and carefully follow health guidelines. Once experts presented evidence that masks work, a real leader would have listened to them, fully endorsed masks, and led by example. A real leader would not flaunt public health guidelines by holding massive crowded rallies. This list goes on and on and on. It’s almost hard to imagine anyone doing a worse job at handling COVID than Trump has.
Look around the world at how other countries are doing. Look at countries like Australia where less than 1,000 people have died of COVID (35 deaths per million people) and compare that to the US where over 230,000 have died (712 deaths per million). There is absolutely no reason why that many people had to die. If you look at other countries, it is painfully obvious that an intelligent leader who listened to experts could have greatly reduced those deaths. Further, if you compare Trump’s actions and statements to Biden’s, it is clear that Biden would have done a much better job. He would have encouraged mask use (and led by example), he would have listened to experts and worked with them, not against them, and thousands more would be alive today (see note at end about Trump’s China ban).
Beyond COVID, Trump’s environmental policies have been horrific. He has rolled back dozens of regulations designed to protect the environment and your health, he has opened up public land for fossil fuel companies to destroy, he has repeatedly denied the seriousness of climate change and refused to take appropriate action, his idiotic border wall is destroying key habitat for countless species, he has done his best to fill the EPA with people who care about business, not the environment, he has attacked the endangered species act, etc. etc. He is probably the worst president for the environment that we have ever had. And look, some of you are probably about to be like, “stupid liberal, America has the best air and water in the world!” but what you seem to be blindly ignoring is that we only have good air and water quality (not the best, btw) because of the types of environmental rules Trump is removing! It’s like someone buying a very well-maintained used car and saying, “this thing runs great, better than other cars, therefore I don’t need to do these oil changes.” The car only runs well because of the maintenance! Keep in mind, prior to environmental regulations, some of America’s rivers were literally on fire due to the waste being dumped into them. Without regulations, companies will destroy the environment which ultimately impacts human health and costs lives.
More generally, Trump has repeatedly tried to cut funding for science and health agencies (fortunately the senate has largely stopped him, but who knows if that would continue to be true for four more years) and waged an all-out war on the nature of facts and truth. All politicians lie, but Trump does so at an extraordinary rate. The non-partisan fact-checking site Politifact has ranked 72% of his claims as “mostly false” or worse. It’s not just that he lies, rather, the majority of what he says is false, then he tries to claim that its really everyone else who is lying. He does this even when he is clearly in the wrong. Do you all remember him feuding with meteorologists about the direction a storm was going, then using a sharpy to draw an extra line on a map like the petulant child he is? That’s insane and, quite frankly, dangerous. People need to listen to experts, especially when storms are coming, and they need accurate information. When the president picks these types of fights, spreads false information, and erodes public trust in scientists, he is endangering lives. Further, it is behavior that is unfathomable from someone like Biden. You honestly think Biden would have picked a fight like that? Do you honestly think Biden wouldn’t have just let things slide rather than fighting experts and drawing on a map with a sharpy? There’s simply no comparison between these two.
This post has become long, and it’s not even close to listing the countless ways in which Trump has attacked science and endangered lives, but I will end it here. We cannot have four more years of this. We have to vote him out. Please, don’t sit this election out, and don’t waste your vote on a third-party candidate.
Note on third-party candidates: The way that America’s system is set up, third-party candidates simply do not have a realistic chance of winning. They just don’t. There is absolutely zero evidence to support the notion that a third-party candidate can win, and no third-party candidate has won even a single state in decades. Even if everyone who actually wanted a third-party candidate voted that way, there is no evidence whatsoever that those people outnumber Trump or Biden supporters.
Note on Trump’s China ban: Trump’s supporters love to cite the travel ban as evidence that Trump did take things seriously and is better than democrats. This is absurd. First, the travel ban was very ineffective (something like 40,000 people still came in from China). At best, it bought us a bit of time, but Trump squandered that time. Second, this does not change the fact that following the ban, Trump did literally everything wrong. Note instituting the ban, but instituting universal mask-wearing, better social distancing, etc. would have resulted in far fewer deaths than we currently have. Third, even the assertion that the ban is evidence of Trump taking things seriously is dubious because he has been feuding with China for years and loves travel bans. It is entirely possible that he simply saw an opportunity to ban a country he doesn’t like and took it.

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