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Our secondary plague

Trump has sabotaged efforts to address the pandemic because he is too obsessed with his re-election. He has also created a new kind of existential anxiety that will only be cured if he is voted out of office.

Richard Davis, a retired registered nurse and tireless advocate for access to health care, serves as Guilford’s health officer. A former Brattleboro Reformer columnist, he continues posting writing weekly on his Facebook profile (


I am trying to see all of the positive things that have come about as a result of the pandemic. We have more time to do the things we have been putting off for so long, we can read all of those books that have been on our reading list, and we have time to connect with family and friends, even though in-person contact is rarely an option.

But it seems to me that most people have had enough of the pandemic, and they have run out of patience.

After all, most people are not taking the long view, because their lives have been so disrupted and they are struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table.

It didn’t have to be this way, and that is the greater pandemic tragedy that Americans have been subjected to.

* * *

In times of emergency and mass catastrophe, we expect government to be there to work in an organized manner to solve problems and to figure out a way to prevent us from suffering too much.

Sadly, during the pandemic of 2020, the national government has not stepped up to the plate. State and local governments have done an admirable job of dealing with the pandemic, but without a nationally coordinated effort it will be nearly impossible for this country to have adequate control over the spread of the coronavirus.

Americans know that things could be better. They know that the reason that this country is doing such a poor job of controlling the spread of the virus is because we have a president who is not only incompetent, but someone who has sabotaged efforts to provide national pandemic support because he is too obsessed with trying to get re-elected.

What we have is a secondary plague — a form of disease that is chipping away at our mental health because most sensible people know that things could have been better in this country months ago and that 160,000 people died because of federal-government disregard for the value of the lives of Americans.

The bungled handling of the pandemic would be enough for this country to feel a kind of pain that hurts for too long, especially when you consider that there will probably never be an end to the spread of the coronavirus. But we have also been subjected to a second plague that, hopefully, will be over in November.

* * *

We have suffered for nearly four years through the plague of the Trump family. Almost 70 percent of Americans have felt tormented and tortured by the inhumane, racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic actions of Donald Trump.

His presidency has been a black mark on the history of this country. Those of us who have had to live through the long, dark days of this administration have had to figure out a way not to be completely overwhelmed by a man who embraces values that are so antithetical to the values of a just and humane society.

That is why so many people have had to ration or completely eliminate contact with all forms of media.

Not only is Trump responsible for the deaths of many of the Americans who have died from the coronavirus, he has also created a new kind of existential anxiety that will only be cured if he is voted out of office.

The plague may linger, but Trump does not have to.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #575 (Wednesday, August 19, 2020). This story appeared on page B1.

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