Donald Trump and his supporters basically live under a rock, and love every minute of it. The president has been spreading fake virus news to anyone who will listen, and the only people actually listening are his poorly educated supporters. These people are still not taking the pandemic seriously, and they are paying for it with their lives.
Supporters of the president are going out of their way to defy COVID-19 recommendations from the CDC, including social distancing and sheltering in place, and they are apparently doing it just to spite liberals.
In an article from The Atlantic, journalist McKay Coppins says that:
For a brief moment earlier this month, it seemed as if social distancing might be the one new part of American life that wasn’t polarized along party lines. Schools were closed in red states and blue; people across the political spectrum retreated into their home. Though President Donald Trump had played down the pandemic at first, he was starting to take the threat more seriously—and his media allies followed suit. Reminders to wash your hands and avoid crowds became commonplace on both Fox News and MSNBC. Those who chose to ignore this guidance—the spring-breakers clogging beaches, the revelers on Bourbon Street—appeared to do so for apolitical reasons. For the most part, it seemed, everyone was on the same page.
The consensus didn’t last long. Trump, having apparently grown impatient with all the quarantines and lockdowns, began last week to call for a quick return to business as usual. “we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,” he tweeted, in characteristic caps lock. Speaking to Fox News, he added that he would “love” to see businesses and churches reopened by Easter. Though Trump would later walk them back, the comments set off a familiar sequence—a Democratic backlash, a pile-on in the press, and a rush in MAGA-world to defend the president. As the coronavirus now emerges as another front in the culture war, social distancing has come to be viewed in some quarters as a political act—a way to signal which side you’re on.
The sobering report continues:
Some of the more brazen departures from public-health consensus have carried a whiff of right-wing performance art. Jerry Falwell Jr., an outspoken Trump ally and president of the evangelical Liberty University, made headlines this week for inviting students back to campus over objections from local officials. The conservative website The Federalist published a trollish piece proposing “chicken-pox parties” as a model for strategically spreading the coronavirus. Throughout the conservative media, calls to reopen the economy—even if it means sacrificing the sick and elderly—are gaining traction.
“I would rather die than kill the country,” Glenn Beck declared on his radio show.
“Those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves,” Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said on Fox News.
Dennis Prager, a conservative commentator, even compared outbreak-mitigation efforts to Nazi appeasement: “That attitude, that the only value is saving a life … it leads to cowardice. It has to. No one can die? Then it’s not a war.”
This kind of simpleminded rhetoric is only hurting Trump supporters, and at least one of them has died as a result of listening to the president’s recommendation to take an anti-malaria drug to combat the deadly virus.
The Atlantic continues:
This dynamic is playing out in small ways across the country. Bret, a sales representative from Plano, Texas, who asked that I not use his last name, proudly told me how unfazed he and his conservative neighbors were by the threat of an outbreak. In his view, the recent wave of government-mandated lockdowns was a product of panic-mongering in the mainstream media, and he welcomed Trump’s call for businesses to reopen by Easter.
When I asked whether the virus had interfered with his lifestyle, Bret laughed. “Oh, I’m going to the shooting range tomorrow,” he replied.
Was he worried that his friends might disapprove if they found out?
“No,” he told me, “around here, I get much more of people saying, ‘Why don’t you go Saturday so I can go, too?’”
Terry Trahan, a manager at a cutlery store in Lubbock, Texas, acknowledged that a certain “toxic tribalism” was informing people’s attitudes toward the pandemic. “If someone’s a Democrat, they’re gonna say it’s worse,” he told me, “and if someone’s a Republican, they’re gonna say it’s bad, but it’s getting better.”
And the stupidity continues:
Katherine Vincent-Crowson, a 35-year-old self-defense instructor from Slidell, Louisiana, has watched in horror this month as businesses around her city were forced to close by state decree. A devotee of Ayn Rand, Vincent-Crowson told me Louisiana’s shelter-in-place order was a frightening example of government overreach.
“It feels very militaristic,” she said. “I’m just like, ‘What the hell, is this 1940s Germany?’”
But when we spoke, she seemed even more aggravated by the “self-righteous” people on social media who spend their time publicly shaming anyone who isn’t staying locked in their house. “It really reminds me of my kids who tattle on their siblings when they do something bad,” she said. “I’m a libertarian … I don’t really like being told what to do.”