Thank goodness for true leaders

Dear President Trump,

So hey, I’m pretty sure being caught “back on your heels” is worse than being caught “flat footed” but neither one is good and both would be generous descriptions of your administration’s inept response to the covid-19 crisis. You see, both these idioms reference situations where someone is surprised by something or caught off guard and struggling to respond because a situation is so unexpected. This doesn’t describe the current situation, now does it? You all saw this train barreling towards us when word first started coming from China that something very bad with very big implications was going on there and was likely to spread. Indeed, you all probably knew this long before the general US public knew this. Thus, you had months (and months) during which you could have been building a coherent, logical set of contingencies and strategies to use if/when this new virus spread here.

And now, even with the disease spreading all across the country, your administration and your surrogates are downplaying it, lamely pretending that it’s no big deal and will just blow over without the populace needing to do anything different in our day-to-day lives. Or maybe you aren’t just pretending, maybe you all really do believe this disease isn’t much more of a threat than the flu and isn’t a big enough deal to insist that people follow strict guidelines for limiting its spread. Or maybe you really do understand that covid-19 is ten times more deadly than the flu, but believe it isn’t that big a deal if a good chunk of our most vulnerable people, to include people over 60, succumb to the disease. Whatever your exact motivations are for continually putting out messaging contrary to that of public health experts, those motivations are some kind of messed up and I think they’re going to end up biting you hard.

Seriously, all your loyal party-harders who are blowing off the self-isolation and social distancing guidance are putting themselves and each other at tremendous risk. They are also putting their ability to vote for you in November at risk. Just saying….

Sadly, infuriatingly, however, they are also putting everyone else at risk because much as they, and we, might wish it were so, they don’t live in a hermetically sealed world populated solely by Republicans.

You know, it’s always been hard to extend, even in the abstract, loving-kindness and compassion to people who would like me and other LGBT people to not exist, who want to limit women’s right to make our own choices about our bodies, who espouse racist, classist, and misogynistic belief systems, and who cloak all of it in messed up religious freedom propaganda. I try, but really it’s very hard and my sense is that it’s many of these same people who are essentially saying “f*ck your kill-joy guidance, this is ‘merica and I’ll god damn do what I god damn want to do.” Truly, it’s getting even harder to love them.

I can’t stay in that space so in the interest of sharing some very pro-social information about other responses to the covid-19, I’m including a link to the University of Washington School of Medicine’s covid-19 website (https://covid-19.uwmedicine.org/Pages/default.aspx), which has a lot of great helpful information. I also want to say that the facility level leadership at my VA has been doing an absolutely tremendous job managing this situation and keeping staff informed. Similarly, one of our King County Council members, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, has been sending out the warmest, most thoughtful and informative daily updates for weeks now.

Even though I’m sure it’s obvious, I want to go on record and say that I’m deeply grateful to those who are courageously and lovingly bridging the chasm between reality and what your administration is promulgating. They’re generously using their super powers to help us all get to the other side and we’re incredibly fortunate they are in our midst.

May we all be safe, even those who don’t accept that they are at risk.
May we find ways to keep some sense of humor going through this mess.
May we keep our true leaders healthy and strong.
May we take care of peace and kindness (and stop stockpiling guns and ammunition).

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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