Letter: Violating the Laws of Nature

Letter to the Editor

Last week’s presidential debate featured the quintessential Donald Trump, breaker of norms and denigrator of “suckers” and “losers” who follow all the rules. In negotiating with the Commission on Presidential Debates, President Trump’s campaign staff had agreed to a debate protocol stipulating two-minute segments of uninterrupted speaking time for each candidate. During the debate, President Trump immediately and consistently violated that agreement, repeatedly interrupting Vice President Biden’s attempts to provide full answers to questions posed by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace. The resulting train wreck of a debate was universally jeered. Wallace should not have been surprised that President Trump would violate the debate rules. Breaking rules is how he “wins” most competitions, whether they be golf or presidential elections. He seemed to be getting away with breaking rules, thanks to enablers like every Republican senator except Senator Romney who voted “No” on articles of impeachment. 

Breaking human-made rules worked so well for President Trump that he decided to break some of Mother Nature’s rules as well. That turned out to be a mistake. When it comes to coronaviruses, scientists have a pretty good idea how Mother Nature works. Epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists worked out national protocols based on lessons learned combatting the SARS, MERS and H1N1 viruses. 

When SARS-CoV-2 virus invaded the U.S., President Trump ignored the national protocols and publicly discounted the potential severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. He openly derided Vice President Biden for following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines with respect to social distancing, wearing a mask, washing hands, etc. He supported Republican governors’ efforts to bolster their states’ economies even at the risk of opening up schools, restaurants, churches and workplaces too early, causing new surges in COVID-19 cases. And then, because of his lax attitudes toward scientifically endorsed methods of preventing the spread of COVID-19, he became a victim himself. Most rules exist to promote harmony and well-being, two emotional states that U.S. voters miss and want restored. President Trump’s reluctance to support COVID-19-related rules has proved deadly to thousands of Americans, contributing to voters’ likely decision to end his presidency.

William McCarthy