Trump’s COVID-19 Response Underscores Why We Must Elect Experienced and Qualified Officials

Dakota Layton | May 22, 2020 | Opinion Article

The 2020 Presidential election between the Republican incumbent, Donald Trump, and the Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden is less than 6 months away and there’s no doubt in my mind that the President will attempt to frame the race in a similar way to its 2016 predecessor. In 2016, Trump defined himself as a populist outsider who would restore representation to the forgotten man and clean up the corruption in Washington D.C. He defined his Democratic opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as a career politician who is the quintessential epitome of corruption in our political system. Trump will undoubtedly attempt to re-create this narrative on the campaign trail this year against Joe Biden.

But truth and facts often find themselves hidden by the dark cloud of partisan political discourse. According to a Washington Post analysis, Trump has made 16,241 false or misleading claims in his first three years in office and CNN’s Don Lemon reported that Trump told “nearly six times as many falsehoods as Obama did during his presidency.” Despite this alarming statistic, the President still holds a 92% approval rating from Republicans and members of the President’s staff have attempted to rationalize his lies. Perhaps you all will remember the most infamous occasion of this happening. Trump’s former Press Secretary, Sean Spicer made national headlines when he claimed that Trump’s inauguration crowd “was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.” It turned out that the claim was false. During an NBC interview with Chuck Todd, the President’s senior advisor, Kellyanne Conway defended Spicer with the following statement: “You’re saying it’s a falsehood. And they’re giving — Sean Spicer, our press secretary — gave alternative facts,” to which Todd responded, “Alternative facts aren’t facts, they are falsehoods.”

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The sad reality of the situation is that most of President Trump’s base will continue to support him because “he’s not a politician.” I have always found it rather peculiar that experience and qualifications are valued for most jobs, but they are viewed as marks of corruption for Presidential candidates. Could you imagine if your physician had not attended medical school? I’m sure you would deem them unqualified to practice medicine and potentially dangerous. Shouldn’t we apply that same standard of qualification to our elected officials?

The President’s inexperience and lack of qualification have brightly shown through in his Administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the majority of Americans are not happy about it. According to polling by FiveThirtyEight, 52.5% of Americans disapprove of the Administration’s response compared to just 43.3% who approve of it. When the pollsters divided the participants by political party affiliation, they found that 82.6% of Republicans approved of the Administration’s response compared to only 12.9% of Democrats and 39.8% of Independents.

Yet, despite the majority of American’s disapproving of the Administration’s response, the President still had the audacity to claim, “I think in a certain way, maybe our best work has been on what we’ve done with Covid-19.” In addition, he touted his own scientific acumen at a March meeting at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. He said, “Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability,”

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Ladies and gentleman, as painful as this is to admit, we shouldn’t be surprised by the President’s bizarre comments. If you elect an unhinged, unqualified, and inexperienced candidate to be the Leader of the Free World, you should expect a disastrous outcome, similar to if you visited a physician who didn’t go to medical school.

Let’s pause for a moment and consider an objection to my claim. President Trump may be unqualified and inexperienced, but he can defer to the experts in fields where he has no knowledge and craft policy based on the input of those experts can’t he? Sure he can, but unfortunately, he has not followed this route. The New York Times noted that “a disregard for scientific advice has been a defining characteristic of Mr. Trump’s administration.” During his 2016 Presidential campaign, “Trump had publicly questioned science by expressing skepticism about vaccines and suggesting climate change was a hoax fabricated by China.” Trump has continued to ignore the advice of scientific experts even during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Last month, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the lead medical expert on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, stated, “We absolutely need to significantly ramp up, not only the number of tests but the capacity to actually perform them,” adding, “I am not overly confident right now at all, that we have what it takes to do that.”

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During a press briefing, Trump contradicted Fauci, saying, “I don’t agree with him on that, no, I think we’re doing a great job on testing.” Trump also suggested that COVID-19 may be gone by the Fall, to which Dr. Fauci responded, “We will have coronavirus in the fall. I am convinced of that.”

A second incident of the President contradicting Dr. Fauci occurred last week when Fauci testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. He issued a dire warning to governors who may reopen their states too early: “My concern — that if some areas, city, states or what have you jump over those various checkpoints and prematurely open up without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently — my concern is that we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks.”

Trump responded to Fauci’s comments at a press conference later that day, saying, “I was surprised by his answer, actually, because, you know, to me it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools.” Trump also accused Fauci of wanting to “play all sides of the equation.”

President Trump’s refusal to follow the advice of scientific experts and his desire to get re-elected has been the two driving factors of his Administration’s COVID-19 response. You can click here to see the President’s evolution on the issue of COVID-19. At first, he downplayed the virus as a “Democratic hoax” and now he thinks his Administration’s response to the virus is possibly their best work? This is ridiculous. We need to elect different leaders.

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The Trump Administration’s response to COVID-19 is the prime example for why we shouldn’t vote for candidates with no political qualification or experience. Electing unhinged populists to represent us will only make our problems worse. To use an analogy, pouring salt on a gaping wound will not heal the wound any faster.

What we need to do is vote for qualified candidates who will tell us the truth and be able to work with members of the other party in good faith to produce bipartisan policy results. Our political institutions were not meant to be run by fringe populists on either side of the aisle. We need to restore good-faith bipartisanship to our government and the first step to doing that is electing qualified leaders who can agree on the same set of facts and govern effectively.

Experience and qualifications may be seen as marks of corruption for political candidates, but the reality is the opposite. I hope that voters will be able to see that in November. President Trump may not be a politician, but in my view, that should disqualify him from running for President. The country is not a business and it’s time for the American people to realize that.

Dakota Layton is a Senior at UAH studying Philosophy and is also the President of the UAH College Democrats.

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