At this moment, America faces two huge policy crises: the coronavirus pandemic and the denial of fundamental civil rights. Both are matters of right and wrong, struggles between good and evil.
And in both cases, despite their slogan “all lives matter” as well as their long-time claim to be “pro-life,” conservative policy is most assuredly pro-death. It’s as if they believe no lives matter.
COVID-19 is the worst public health emergency in our lifetimes. Progressives think it is self-evident that we need to save lives, banding together and cooperating to protect one another. And racism is the worst ongoing problem in American history. Progressives think it is obvious that Black Lives Matter and that we need to stand up for the propositions that “all [people] are created equal” (Declaration of Independence), and that “justice is the [entire purpose] of government” (Federalist Papers #51).
But clearly, conservatives value neither equality nor justice.
Trump and his allies downplayed the importance of the killing of George Floyd and other black people by police. They opposed the subsequent demonstrations with Trump urging governors to “dominate” the protesters and directing the teargassing of peaceful demonstrators in Lafayette Square.
But this is nothing new for Trump. It took him more than 48 hours to denounce the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. He claimed a judge, who was born in Indiana, was biased because “he’s a Mexican.” He said immigrants from Africa and Haiti come from “shithole countries.” He launched a travel ban against Muslims. He lashed out at a Chinese-American White House reporter because of her race. He mocked Mitt Romney for participating in a Black Lives Matter march. And, as you know, these examples just scratch the surface. Trump has spent the past four years as America’s chief spokesman for racism.
Not only do Black lives not matter to Trump and his people, neither do the lives of anyone they perceive as non-White, non-Christian, foreign, or in opposition to them in any way.
Similarly, conservatives don’t think COVID-19 is an urgent problem. For example, a recent Vanderbilt University poll in Tennessee found that while 82 percent of Democrats are “concerned about contracting COVID-19,” only 37 percent of Republicans are concerned. This is consistent with what Donald Trump has been telling his base all along: that the coronavirus is a “hoax” by Democrats, that it’s no worse than the flu, and soon it will go away like magic. On June 15, Trump told a group of seniors at the White House his astonishing belief that, “If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any.” No wonder the U.S. lags far behind Europe and Asia in testing!
Trump plans to hold a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20 where nearly 20,000 people are expected to be packed into an indoor sports arena, “an extraordinarily dangerous move,” according to the Director of Harvard University’s Global Health Institute. In fact, contrary to the advice of scientists, Trump and his campaign intend to hold many extraordinarily dangerous gatherings, including a Republican National Convention that may lead to breakouts of COVID-19 across all the states.
Lives just don’t matter to Trump and his political collaborators. They are perfectly willing to sacrifice supporters who act as props for the campaign, as well as their families, friends, neighbors and coworkers who would catch COVID-19 from them.
As we argued a couple months ago, this is the most important argument for the 2020 election season: our candidates and groups “care about your health and the health of your family and friends. The conservatives do not. We tell the truth about COVID-19 and other threats to your health and safety. The conservatives do not. Our policies save lives. The conservatives’ do not.”