Pass The Buck “Leadership”

Today I want to talk about a bi-partisan – but heavily skewed to the Republicans – problem in America. Those who monitor rather than read me will be pleased in that I’ll actually say a few critical things about some Democrats. They deserve it and their fear of those who accept right wing mythology has everything to do with it.

America suffers from a lack of fearless political leadership! The pandemic is illustrating it and people are dying because of it. COVID-19 is here and if we don’t defeat it, it will eventually win. We have to a degree, and only to a degree, contained it but any victory dance would be idiotically premature! Until we totally contain it the virus it will continue to mutate and eventually it will mutate into a form that we won’t have an effective containment strategy for.

We have learned a lot about the virus in the past year and a half – yes, that’s how long we have been dealing with it in America which doesn’t appear to have been the first country to be hit. Many of the prudent concerns/fears we had early on have proven to be inconsequential at best. (I remember disinfecting groceries and the mail.) However, mask wearing, frequent hand washing, social distancing and most importantly the three vaccines approved in America have all proven highly effective. (Unless you subscribe to right wing mythology that is.)

That said why the (you insert your expletive of choice – mine would certainly violate my PG policy) isn’t getting vaccinated mandatory with the exception of medical circumstances preventing it? (Those medical exemptions would apply to less than 2% of the population.)
The paramount reason is the lack of sufficient leadership from our elected officials and the higher office they hold, the less courage they are displaying. I’ll start my criticism with two Democrats who I’ve met, supported, endorsed and voted for and would do the same all over again: President Joe Biden and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. Both are cognizant of the political tightrope they are walking and are erring on the side of political caution. While both have used their bully pulpits to make strong recommendations for individuals to take appropriate actions, they have not come flat out and decreed mandates damning the inevitable lawsuits and public outcry on the part of the vocal minority who may be literally killing the rest of us. The current Supreme Court – where I assume the lawsuits might well end up – may well rule against them. The Court majority is pro-fetus but whether they are pro-life is certainly questionable. The reality is that mandates would save lives in the interim.

The pandemic is a serious threat and calls for strong action. We saw what weak action and inaction did under Trump. To date America has lost over 600,000 lives to the pandemic. How many of them because of Trump’s ineptitude and right wing mythology? We will never know for certain but it is well north of zero.

The two states leading the pack in new cases are Florida and Texas. It appears they account for over one-third of recent new cases. They are both populous states but they constitute only 15.6% of the population. They are both near the bottom in vaccinations. They both have Republican governors (Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida) who are doing everything they can to stymie prudent health measures. Florida ranks 24th in fully vaccinated rates and Texas 37th. Both feature big densely populated metropolitan areas that, with a large percentage of unvaccinated, are petri dishes for virus spread and mutation.

As of late some Republican governors – Kay Ivey of Alabama chief among them – are being lauded for speaking out about the need to get vaccinated. My question is what rock have you been living under for the past six months? Leadership is more akin to Smokey Bear and preventing forest fires than a smoke eater who puts them out. The root word of leadership is leader; need I say more? Putting it in basketball terms; the best last second play is the one you never have to use because you are up by twenty.

In large part our political leaders have passed the buck down the line and to businesses which they are not supporting. Local leaders have often been willing to step up and institute mask requirements. Many elected officials on the state level have simply sat on their hands and the really dangerous ones (like Abbott and DeSantis) have actually issued executive orders and/or championed legislation – which their Republican state legislative colleagues have been only too happy to rush through – banning local control. (I know I’m getting old but I remember when local control was a major part of the Republican philosophy. Hell, that was back when their national convention actually issued a platform.)

As to businesses, many of the “big boys” are taking action that looks good until you get into the weeds a bit. Walmart, not surprisingly, is the biggest scam artist to date. They jumped on the bandwagon of requiring vaccination or making employees submit to testing. That sounds good until you read the “fine print” and find out the edict only applies to their headquarters. So, their executives are concerned with protecting themselves and their families but the workers in their stores, their patrons and the families of both are on their own. That’s not bold leadership; it’s a publicity stunt!

I sometimes think one term is one too many for a president (Trump); but then I think two is too few (Obama. Happy 60th birthday!). What I want is leadership that is more concerned with the people than with reelection. Neither Party is prefect but the Republicans have more and worse “devils” than the Democrats seem to. In the rare instances where you really have a choice when voting vote for courageous candidates.

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