March 29, 2020
by Steve Stofka
The financial crisis a decade ago prepared us to better handle this historic pandemic. Gambling by financial companies, fraud and foolishness sparked that crisis. It had a large impact on the economy and the lives of millions of Americans who lost their homes, savings and jobs. It did not shut down the entire economy.
The Federal Reserve has enacted many emergency measures to support the money market and bond market during the current crisis. Many were set up under the leadership of former Chairman Ben Bernanke in response to the last crisis. In the last crisis, heavy Republican opposition delayed or blocked bailout measures. Republicans whipped up that political sentiment and won back the House in 2010. At a Tea Party rally against Obamacare, one old geezer complained that people used to just go home and die. What does he think now about the pandemic? Should the hospitals turn away all those people? The Tea Party is largely inactive now. Former Congressman Dick Armey helped spark the movement, the Koch Brothers funded it, and the Republican Party rode the wave. In the House, a coalition of about thirty members call themselves the Freedom Caucus (DeSilver, 2015). They are the remnant of the Tea Party movement.
During his campaign, candidate Donald Trump was criticized for his support of the relief policies during the financial crisis (Sherman, 2015). In a recent NBC / Wall Street Journal poll, Republican voters gave President Trump a 92% job approval rating. Overall, the public gives him about 50% on his handling of the coronavirus crisis (POS, 2020). As a presidential candidate in 2016, Mr. Trump famously joked / bragged that he could shoot somebody on fifth Avenue in Manhattan and get away with it (Diamond, 2016). Have his policies contributed to the deaths of New Yorkers during this crisis? Depends on which political glasses you wear.
55 years ago, many Democrats defended President Johnson who sent hundreds of thousands of Democratic and Republican sons to be slaughtered in the swamps of Vietnam. Communism was the virus then. It infected the young and turned them into anti-American socialists. The only remedy was to send the young to another country or beat them with batons at anti-war rallies in Chicago, Washington, and New York City. In the first years of the war, fathers and mothers blamed Communism not President Johnson for the death of their sons. My Lai was the most famous of many atrocities committed during that war (Levesque, 2018). Shortly after that tragedy in March 1968, Mr. Johnson abandoned his re-election bid. Was Mr. Johnson a monster or a hero? Depends on which political glasses you wear.
President Trump is a singular brand but was undoubtedly influenced by the culture of fear and hate that marked his formative years. He wears his hate like a favorite shirt. Like so many, he’s a “used to be”, a former Democrat turned Republican. On C-SPAN’s Washington Journal daily call in program, there’s at least one person who says, “I used to be.” Fill in the blank – either a Democrat or a Republican. They have donned a different shade of glass.
“I’m a this-ism” is another pandemic sweeping the nation. People no longer act in support of their beliefs. Christians declare that they are Christian. They don’t need to act with generosity to others. Progressives declare that they are progressives but don’t have time to vote. That lack of support in the voting booth has hurt the Sanders campaign. He often reminds his supporters that they need to show their enthusiasm at the ballot box. I don’t often hear liberals declare themselves as such. They might be socially liberal but fiscally conservative. Neo-liberals never declare themselves but there are a lot of them, from what I hear. Politicians who have the least restraint in their behavior declare that they are Conservative. Really?
Mr. Trump is the King of Declarations. He’s the greatest President with the greatest policies and his administration is handling this crisis better than any other country. As some people take their last breaths in an emergency room, they are thinking exactly that. This administration is handling this crisis better than anyone in history. How will President Trump’s leadership during this crisis be judged? That will depend on which glasses you wear. Remember, you can trade in for another color of glasses.
DeSilver, D. (2015, October 20). House Freedom Caucus: What is it, and who’s in it? Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/10/20/house-freedom-caucus-what-is-it-and-whos-in-it/
Diamond, J. (2016, January 24). Donald Trump could ‘shoot somebody and not lose voters’ – CNNPolitics. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2016/01/23/politics/donald-trump-shoot-somebody-support/index.html
Levesque, C. J. (2018, March 16). The Truth Behind My Lai. NY Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/16/opinion/the-truth-behind-my-lai.html
Public Opinion Strategies (POS). (2020, March 26). Coronavirus National Polling (March 26th). Retrieved from https://pos.org/coronavirus-national-polling-march-26th/
Sherman, A. (2015, September 15). PolitiFact – Did Donald Trump support the Wall Street bailout as anti-tax Club for Growth says? Retrieved from https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2015/sep/15/club-growth/did-donald-trump-support-wall-street-bailout-club-/