How Trump’s deadly re­elec­tion strat­egy comes back to bite ev­ery 3 to 14 days

Chicago Sun-Times - - OPINION - LAURA WASH­ING­TON lauraswash­ing­ton@aol.com | @Me­di­aDervish Laura Wash­ing­ton is a colum­nist for the Chicago Sun-Times and a po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst for ABC7-Chicago.

Mark Urquiza, 65, died of COVID-19 two weeks ago, hav­ing made the mis­take of lis­ten­ing to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Ari­zona Gov. Doug Ducey.

Trump and Ducey, like a lot of Repub­li­can lead­ers, be­gan urg­ing peo­ple in early May to get back to their nor­mal lives. They said the pan­demic was sub­sid­ing and sort of a hoax any­way, and Urquiza took them at their word and started go­ing out with friends again.

Three weeks af­ter Ducey lifted Ari­zona’s stay-at-home or­der on May 15, Urquiza be­gan feel­ing ill. On June 30, he died.

In a stun­ning obit­u­ary in the Ari­zona Repub­lic on Wed­nes­day, Urquiza’s daugh­ter, Kristin, put the blame right where it be­longs:

Ducey, she said, “has blood on his hands.”

It never fails to amaze us how Trump, Ducey and oth­ers like them re­main wedded to an ap­proach to the pan­demic — de­nial — that is doomed to fail­ure as a mat­ter of both pub­lic health and pol­i­tics.

The more they try to wish the pan­demic away, the more they will have blood on their hands.

And the more they try to force life back to “nor­mal” be­fore it is safe, the more they will lose on Elec­tion Day, Nov. 3.

Be­cause a po­lit­i­cal strat­egy with a rolling shelf life of three to 14 days — the in­cu­ba­tion pe­riod of COVID-19 — is hope­less. It is sure to come back to bite, as it al­ready has, all sum­mer and fall.

Pan­demic in the pews

A few weeks ago, Trump de­manded that houses of wor­ship be al­lowed to re­open. He fig­ured he’d get a lit­tle po­lit­i­cal mileage out of that, even if ev­ery pub­lic health ex­pert said re­open­ing church would be crazy stupid.

And now, right on cue, the coro­n­avirus is surg­ing through churches. Three to 14 days af­ter churches be­gan to re­open, ac­cord­ing to a New York Times anal­y­sis, peo­ple in the pews started get­ting sick.

In Texas, about 50 peo­ple con­tracted the virus af­ter a pas­tor en­cour­aged ev­ery­body to start hug­ging again. In Florida, a teenage girl died last month af­ter at­tend­ing a church party.

No­body’s about to for­get this. Nice church peo­ple will still be dy­ing on Elec­tion Day. Oth­ers will be dy­ing, too.

Ex­pert fore­cast­ers — sci­en­tists, not politi­cians — are now pre­dict­ing more than 200,000 Amer­i­cans will be dead from COVID-19 by Elec­tion Day.

The moral tragedy is that Trump and his craven choir of Repub­li­can gov­er­nors, sen­a­tors and rep­re­sen­ta­tives are not even try­ing to beat the pan­demic. They have never tried.

They’re just try­ing to bam­boo­zle us long enough to win an elec­tion, their ef­forts con­stantly un­done by COVID-19’s po­lit­i­cally in­con­ve­nient brief time span from in­fec­tion to death.

They’re wast­ing their time. When, come to think of it, was that Trump rally in Tulsa? The one that smarter Trump sup­port­ers stayed away from?

June 20, that’s when it was. Three short weeks ago.

And now, in the last week, Tulsa has seen a surge of al­most 500 new cases of COVID-19.

Trump’s rally was “more than likely” a cause of the surge, Dr. Bruce Dart, di­rec­tor of the Tulsa

Health De­part­ment, told Busi­ness In­sider. “We just con­nect the dots.”

Enough Amer­i­cans know bet­ter

Trump and his ac­com­plices can snort all they want that the pan­demic is 50% hooey. They can keep push­ing us to get back out there, spread­ing the virus like kids with squirt guns. But the United States will never pre­vail over the pan­demic un­til enough Amer­i­cans feel safe, and enough Amer­i­cans will never feel safe un­til they re­ally are.

They won’t eat in restau­rants again, or go to a con­cert or fly in a plane just be­cause some mayor or gov­er­nor says they can.

They won’t send their kids back to school un­til they’re con­vinced it’s safe, for that mat­ter, though Trump threat­ened last week to cut fund­ing to schools that don’t re­open fully in the fall.

They will fol­low the science and lis­ten to ex­perts like Dr. An­thony Fauci.

They will con­tinue to size up the dif­fer­ence be­tween what’s al­lowed and what’s safe.

Could not con­vince her fa­ther

De­nial is a lousy way to beat a pan­demic.

Kristin Urquiza told the Wash­ing­ton Post she tried to con­vince her fa­ther not to go out, but he told her Ducey wouldn’t have lifted the stay-at-home or­der if it were not safe.

“De­spite all of the ef­fort that I had made to try to keep my par­ents safe,” she said, “I couldn’t com­pete with the gov­er­nor’s of­fice, and I couldn’t com­pete with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

And, as it turns out, de­nial is a lousy way to win an elec­tion.

The truth keeps com­ing back to bite.

Ev­ery three to 14 days.

IT NEVER FAILS TO AMAZE US HOW TRUMP, DUCEY AND OTH­ERS RE­MAIN WEDDED TO AN AP­PROACH TO THE PAN­DEMIC — DE­NIAL — THAT IS DOOMED TO FAIL­URE AS A MAT­TER OF BOTH PUB­LIC HEALTH AND POL­I­TICS.

We are the last ones to be in­vited into the room, and the last to be con­sulted. We are stereo­typed, mis­un­der­stood, un­der­es­ti­mated, and treated as sec­ond class in a white man’s world.

For Black women, that ex­pe­ri­ence per­vades ev­ery pro­fes­sional arena — from cor­po­ra­tions to the arts and en­ter­tain­ment to govern­ment and pol­i­tics.

Cook County State’s At­tor­ney Kim Foxx has lived it, from her rise from a trou­bled child­hood in the Cabrini-Green hous­ing project to be­com­ing the first African Amer­i­can woman to serve as the county’s top pros­e­cu­tor.

Foxx has long felt “muted” by ad­vis­ers and al­lies, she said last week. Told that she can­not wear her hair “nat­u­ral.” Told not to fold her arms in photos, for fear of be­ing per­ceived as an “an­gry Black woman.” Told she was not qual­i­fied, while white men with lighter re­sumes got ahead.

“We don’t talk about the sub­tle dif­fer­ences in how can­di­dates of color are treated, par­tic­u­larly Black women, and of­ten­times feel­ing very muted, feel­ing very un­heard,” she said.

That leaves her “chal­lenged ev­ery day to op­er­ate in a system that was not built for me to be suc­cess­ful,” reads a state­ment on her cam­paign web­site.

In March, Foxx won a gru­el­ing Demo­cratic pri­mary con­test and will stand for re­elec­tion in Novem­ber. As the na­tion grap­ples with the racial awak­en­ing spurred by the po­lice killing of Ge­orge Floyd in Min­neapo­lis, Foxx is ask­ing her sup­port­ers to “move for­ward and root out sys­temic racism.”

She re­cently con­vened meet­ings with her cam­paign staff, con­sul­tants and donors, she said in an in­ter­view, call­ing on them to sign on to a “Pledge to Fight for Racial Jus­tice.”

She told them, “It is no longer enough to say, ‘I sup­ported the Black woman can­di­date, and that shows that I care about race eq­uity,’ ” Foxx said. “I want you to be able to look at, you know, your re­la­tion­ships, who you bring to the ta­ble” in the po­lit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture.

She is work­ing on mak­ing her own po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tion a racial eq­uity model and ask­ing her sup­port­ers to di­ver­sify their own staffs, op­er­a­tions, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and spend­ing, among other ini­tia­tives. The pledge is de­tailed on her web­site.

The Foxx cam­paign con­tracts with nine con­sult­ing firms, ac­cord­ing to spokesper­son Alexan­dra P. Sims. Most em­ploy few peo­ple of color.

Af­ter meet­ing with Foxx, eight of them signed on to the pledge, Sims said.

Pete Gian­greco is a 30-year vet­eran and part­ner with the Strat­egy Group and has worked on many cam­paigns, in­clud­ing Barack Obama’s pres­i­den­tial runs. While his firm “has al­ways tried to reach out,” Foxx helped con­vince him he needed to “dou­ble down,” he said.

He added four women to his Chicago staff, in­clud­ing three women of color, and cred­its “Kim’s call to do more and do bet­ter. Ev­ery­thing that hap­pened in the world, you know, made us in­ter­nally just want to be more in­ten­tional about it.”

He added, “I just think there’s a lot of us [in pol­i­tics who] think we’re pretty pro­gres­sive. But, you know, that re­ally un­der­stand­ing just how deep some of our is­sues are and how far they go back in his­tory,” a racial his­tory, he said, that’s been “white­washed.”

Dozens of Foxx donors have signed on, among them Bet­tylu Saltz­man, Chuck Lewis, Illi­nois state Sen. Heather Steans and her hus­band, Leo Smith, and Michael Sacks, part owner of the Chicago Sun-Times.

“I want to see sus­tained at­ten­tion and in­vest­ment in eq­uity in all as­pects” of pol­i­tics, Foxx said.

Her pledge may be un­prece­dented in pol­i­tics. It is cer­tainly long over­due.

FAM­ILY PHOTO VIA WASH­ING­TON POST

Mark Urquiza, shown with daugh­ter Kristin, died June 30 in Phoenix, a few weeks af­ter con­tract­ing COVID-19 and af­ter Gov. Doug Ducey ended Ari­zona’s stay-at-home or­der.

ASHLEE REZIN GAR­CIA/SUN-TIMES

Kim Foxx af­ter win­ning the Demo­cratic pri­mary in March.

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