Bob Franken




“‘Cheer up,'” they said, ‘things could be worse.’ So I did, and sure enough they were.” That’s supposed to be a joke, but when it comes to this country’s governing chaos, it is sadly not funny.
First, you had a president who dismissed the seriousness of the invisible invader. Then, only when it became obvious that the lethal coronavirus could not be ignored, or wished away, the people in his administration made a half-hearted response to the deadly organism, even though it was killing Americans at an alarming rate. They left it to state governors to come up with policies to protect the population against the virus, while failing to provide the tools to do it. This meant a lack of personal protective gear for the medical heroes, who stepped up through the toxic atmosphere to bravely try to save lives even though they were often pathetically under-equipped thanks to a supply line that ground to a halt.
Finally, because they had no choice, some of the governors made the agonizing decision to shut down commerce. Millions of people were thrown out of work. They were helped somewhat by trillions of dollars in federal relief funds and eviction moratoriums that provided relief, though the funds were delayed by bureaucratic incompetence and corruption. Still, it was the lifeline between starving and survival.
Even so, the economic plunge had an effect. COVID spikes where thousands died were slowly flattened out. But an impatient president along with his cadre of right wing extremists started pressuring for a return to economic normalcy even though public health experts warned that it was dangerously premature. Given the slightest chance, too many Americans lapsed into irresponsibility, gathering in crowds, not even bothering with masks. The dire predictions were tragically borne out, and now many areas of the country are consumed by the deadly virus waiting to strike.

Worst yet, the political system has proved to be dysfunctional. The United States has become the hopelessly Divided States, as Washington fails to come up with a deal to transfuse more life-giving money into the desperate body public. Unemployment benefits have run out, just as eviction prohibitions ended. So we face the prospect of millions of citizens forced to make a choice between starvation and homelessness … or both. All of this had ample warning. But let us not forget that in this country, yesterday’s direst forecasts become today’s best case scenarios. That means that we can count on one thing: as even President Trump has grudgingly admitted, “Things will get worse before they get better.”The only quibble with that might be saying that things will ever get better.
This country has shown a remarkable lack of will, quitting as first efforts to push back against the coronavirus were starting to provide a smattering of hope. Politicians throughout the country abandoned them at the first signs of pressure from a president who has consistently demonstrated that he doesn’t care anything about his citizens, but only his campaign survival.
The nation’s only hope is a repudiation of him at the polls in November so crushing that it makes him resemble a fringe candidate, so devastating that he abandons all chicanery to dispute the election.
Then we will only have to worry about the period between early November and Jan. 20, when President Joe Biden takes over with a mandate to repair the United States and return it to superpower status that was weakened by four years of Donald Trump kryptonite. It will take decades to repair the damage, if it is even possible.
Trump will still dominate the news, but perhaps it will be for his legal maneuvers to avoid imprisonment for his various crimes before, during and after his presidency. But first we will have to conquer the raging pandemic. That’s a starting point for a nation badly in need of cheering up.

© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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