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Assault on America, Day 510: This November, vote like life depends on it -- because it might

Stacey Abrams Georgia
If all lives truly matter, view politics and voting as though it might be life and death

Whom do you trust? It’s a conundrum every American faces prior to selecting candidates in an election. It doesn’t matter whether it’s voting for local dog catcher or for president of the United States, the choice isn’t always a simple, non-consequential one, primarily because whomever you pick will have an impact on your life one way or another.

That’s a haughty statement to make, especially since so many otherwise outstanding folks don’t take politics seriously, passing it off as, “they’re all corrupt” or, “it doesn’t matter who wins, they’re all in it for themselves anyway.” To be dismissive about questions of grave importance is ignorant at best and criminal at worst, since recent events amply demonstrated who you vote for very well could mean the difference between living and dying for some people. Yes, politics counts…and every politician is not the same.

Take the current worldwide struggle against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP or Wuhan) virus, for example. Policymakers at all levels of government have made and are making decisions and imposing policies that impact everyone, from newborn (or even unborn) babies to the elderly in care facilities. The government’s impact is perhaps easiest to decipher when glancing at normally crowded public spaces that’re barren of activity, but it’s the rulings we can’t necessarily see that are the greatest life-threatening ones.

Take New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent policy of requiring senior care centers to accept all patients regardless of infection status with the coronavirus, a decision that unquestionably impacted the living and dying of thousands under his authority. Tammy Bruce wrote at The Washington Times last week, “New York City Council member Joe Borelli told Fox News: ‘The truth of the matter is on March 25, the Cuomo administration made a decision in the form of a written policy that prevented nursing homes from rejecting patients that were testing positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, from coming back into the nursing home.’ ...

“New York is now reporting more than 5,400 coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, a number that many believe is underreported. As the outrage continued to build, finally on May 10, Mr. Cuomo effectively reversed himself with new rules requiring, in part, that hospitals do not discharge anyone to a nursing home without confirming that they are coronavirus-free...

“The backlash has been severe, but what we all deserve is accountability and justice. Mr. Cuomo’s infamous March order made no sense, unless he decided executive orders give him the power to be a one-man death panel. Only a federal investigation will provide answers that everyone can trust.”

Trust, there’s that word again. With the recent revelations regarding the federal intelligence community’s dirty dealings with the 2016 Trump campaign and the early days of Trump’s administration (General Michael Flynn in December of 2016 and January of 2017), a lot of good people scratched the FBI off their shrinking list of “trusted” entities. It’s going to take years -- and a Trump second term complete with thorough internal housecleaning -- to restore a measure of faith to the men and women behind their own doors.

But it’s different with elected officials, since they’re supposedly accountable to the public through elections, and if that fails, outside watchdog groups can always file lawsuits in federal court alleging bad behavior -- and bad decisions -- against those trusted with overseeing and legitimately employing the powers vested in them. Cuomo’s case is particularly fascinating since he’s been so visible for months now, with people from coast-to-coast (including some conservatives I know) swooning at his earnest and balanced (at least on the surface) daily press briefings from COVID-19 central, New York.

But Cuomo’s invincibility mask is beginning to slip a bit in light of reports like Tammy Bruce’s (above) and Michael Goodwin’s (of the New York Post) and Rich Lowry’s (of National Review) that shone a glaring spotlight on the New York leader’s assessments that didn’t turn out so well. In highlighting Gov. Cuomo’s complicity in the deaths, we’re not necessarily assigning blame -- or culpability. This certainly doesn’t seem to be murder (which requires intent and some degree of premeditation), but there’s also the concept of criminal negligence, where a perpetrator commits an act without proper consideration of what would happen next based on a reasonable person standard.

In other words, Cuomo should’ve known better. Though admittedly not much is -- or was -- known about this novel coronavirus, it doesn’t take a genius or a medical expert to recognize it dispersed fairly easily and rapidly and particularly devastated people who simply couldn’t afford to get sick. Basic common sense indicates that nursing homes would be ground zero for circulating infections and killing a much higher percentage of those unfortunate enough to catch the virus.

Put it this way, if the situation were turned upside-down and a virus (again, probably originating in China) emerged that ravaged human beings under the age of twenty, you wouldn’t be sending sick kids into schools to mix with their peers. As parents, how many times have we been lectured to keep youngsters at home when they’ve got even the slightest trace of illness? It’s been a while since my school aged son has been under the weather, but the rule is you must wait twenty-four hours after a fever breaks before dropping him off in front of the institution.

No excuses are accepted, either. Cuomo engendered waves of sympathy when COVID-19 took over New York and his initial calls for drastically stepping up hospital capacity were taken at face value, which likely was the basis for his inane senior care center policy. But as time went on and the mad rush of patients never materialized, the need for more beds was plainly not in evidence. Yet hundreds -- if not thousands -- died in the interim time before the killer order was rescinded.

Besides, why were the elderly treated so callously? A cynic would say it’s because they can’t speak for themselves. Only those who can no longer care for their own needs are committed to these places and even then, it’s usually treated by family and the individual as a final option because they’re super expensive and frankly, not the greatest places to live out closing days or years. In my grandfather’s last two years he fought like crazy to stay out of a home because he understood what it meant, namely cramped quarters, loss of individual freedoms (what to eat, when to eat, what to do during the day, etc.) and yes, sickness and death.

If elephants realize when it’s their “time” they leave the herd. Old folks are the same way. Though if elephants knew they would be shipped off to a placoderm rest home, they might rethink their willingness to exit on their own accord.

To put it bluntly, Cuomo shouldn’t have to be told not to place a medically potent “fox” inside a human “hen house.” Or if that analogy doesn’t work for you, how about not building a roaring bonfire in the center of a tinder dry forest with the wind blowing thirty miles an hour. Disaster is easily foreseeable in so many instances, and it wouldn’t take a judge and jury -- or Smokey the Bear -- to weigh the arguments to determine facts.

Sometimes you just know. Don’t jump off the Golden Gate bridge for kicks because you probably won’t survive to tell your friends about it. Don’t leap out of an airplane without someone who knows what they’re doing checking your parachute first. And don’t send COVID-19 positive patients into a facility with hundreds of elderly people in delicate health. Duh.

Two examples of recent elections that made a huge difference in life and death outcomes

We come by hindsight much easier than foresight, but in two recent elections the better choice was so obvious it should’ve been clear as a neon sign in the middle of a pitch-black desert on a moonless night to voters on Election Day. Both were in November, 2018, and both were between Republicans with solid records versus Democrat identity-politics candidates who didn’t know their rear orifices from a proverbial hole-in-the-ground.

In Georgia, the gubernatorial contest pitted Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp against former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, whose biggest claim to fame to that point was being endorsed by Bernie Sanders in her party primary. In next door Florida (to the south), Sunshine State voters could choose between former congressman Ron DeSantis and political lightweight (and also identity-centered) Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum.

DeSantis was a Bronze Star winning Navy Lt. Commander who’d served in Iraq in addition to his three terms as a congressman. Gillum was a career politician who’d been in local office since he was 23 (he was 38 when running against DeSantis, who is about ten months older). As if the distinctions weren’t stark enough, Democrats sought to pit DeSantis’s affinity for the Trump agenda against him in addition to waging an anti-gun crusade due to the Parkland shooting. The Republican squeaked out a close victory, 49.6 percent to the Democrat’s 49.2 percent.

Of course, DeSantis is now recognized as one of the best and most effective governors in the country, having led his state to one of the lowest coronavirus mortality rates in the nation (more on this below) despite keeping most of his counties “open” for business (with conditions, of course). Gillum went on to be arrested in a Miami Beach hotel room where he was found inebriated with a “porn star performer and gay prostitute” suspected of overdosing on crystal meth. Not sure how that one could be explained away, but clearly Florida voters chose correctly with DeSantis -- and it saved lives.

Georgia went with Kemp and the governor is presiding over one of the most successful early business re-openings in the nation. Needless to say, Kemp endured waves of hysteric criticism from nanny-state worriers who predicted a new wave of COVID-19 infections and deaths. It didn’t happen. Was it a life saver? Probably. If allowing people to make a living and pay bills is a benefit to their personal health, a few weeks or a month could make a huge difference.

Stacey Abrams? After claiming she was robbed of the election due to voter suppression, Abrams is going around the country campaigning to be Joe Biden’s running mate. Enough said. Would Abrams have opened up the state? Not likely (she called Kemp’s easing of the rules “dangerously incompetent”). Face it, she’s an idiot.

Unlike Andrew Cuomo, Ron DeSantis took a data-based approach that brought results, not deaths

One of the great and consequential things about American federalism is it grants authority for states to try different approaches to universal problems such as dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis drew severe criticism (a.k.a. hate) from the media over his more hands-off, freedom-based plan to battle the plague. Will he receive a well-merited apology?

Rich Lowry wrote at National Review, “The conventional wisdom has begun to change about Florida, as the disaster so widely predicted hasn’t materialized. It’s worth delving into the state’s response — as described by DeSantis and a couple of members of his team — because it is the opposite of the media narrative of a Trump-friendly governor disregarding the facts to pursue a reckless agenda. DeSantis and his team have followed the science closely from the beginning, which is why they forged a nuanced approach, but one that focused like a laser on the most vulnerable population, those in nursing homes.

“An irony of the national coverage of the coronavirus crisis is that at the same time DeSantis was being made into a villain, New York governor Andrew Cuomo was being elevated as a hero, even though the DeSantis approach to nursing homes was obviously superior to that of Cuomo. Florida went out of its way to get COVID-19-positive people out of nursing homes, while New York went out of its way to get them in, a policy now widely acknowledged to have been a debacle.”

It’s true; the media’s depiction of DeSantis’s leadership has been brutal and patently unfair. As Lowry indicated, the Florida governor recognized early on (based on data) that seniors were the most vulnerable and planned accordingly. The rest of the population he urged caution, but didn’t shut the whole place down. Lowry’s entire article is worth reading.

Democrats and Republicans will claim that their governors’ coronavirus responses helped save lives, but both sides can’t be right and statistics don’t lie. Now more than ever we see evidence that elections have consequences. Think about it before you cast your vote this November. The life you save might be your own.

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