The one has all the drama; the other has the comfort and familiarity of home. While I am trying to get excited about the New Zealand election campaign, my attention is constantly pulled away to another campaign in the United States.
Donald Trump has downplayed the Covid 19 pandemic from the start. Let me count the ways. He has denied its name, calling it the ‘Chinese virus’ and hinting it was somehow manufactured and planted. He has denied it’s spread, noting on numerous occasions that the numbers were falling and it was going to disappear. He has treated attempts to control it as the work of extreme leftist forces.
He told Carl Bernstein that he did not believe he would get it. He was not able to say why, but only that he would not catch it. This irrational view, or hubris if you like (hubris is such a good word for everything Trump) meant that he mostly would not wear a mask. His followers picked up masklessness as a political statement, thus probably ensuring thousands more cases than would otherwise be necessary.
In my little bloggy poem on the DB the other week, I imagined Trump getting the virus and getting quote sick, thus delaying the selection of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s successor on the Supreme Court, which is likely to plunge that Court to te far right. I did not imagine him dying as I am not into death wishes. But now he has it and the possibilities in terms of the election campaign, the vote itself and the outcomes are dizzying. This is indeed a drama playing out across the world.
There is a little bit of human nature that likes smug and mouthy people to get their comeuppance. There is a pleasure in seeing the mighty fall. It is good when political opponents lose ground. For all these reasons, the Trump Show is riveting and, really, it is not surprising that I cannot take my eyes off the US media.
And, as Anthony Fauci would say, the Covid is a slippery little number that should not be underestimated. And it is worth asking what does it do psychically to someone like Trump, when they catch a virus they essentially don’t believe in? In recent weeks Trump has been telling his supporters that the danger has passed, that the pandemic is on the wane.
Policy and politics
It is easy to forget when riveted to the Trump Show that politics is supposed to be about policy. It is always nice to watch Jacinda going around the country mixing with people and announcing policy, but it is also true that there is little that is new or astounding.
Judith has brought a little bit of interest by her rather self-conscious pitch for the Christian vote on the right. It was a bit embarrassing, having her kneel in the pew for the cameras. Unlike in the USA, this country has always observed a de facto separation between politics and religion, and it was awkward to see that breached. I wondered (again) whether she is being guided by political consultants of the Crosby/Textor genre, because she often seems to doing things that are out of character for her. I thought calling Jacinda ‘dear’, plus all the face-pulling and eye-rolling, might be part of some sophisticated strategy. Or not.
I will be attending the Christchurch debate on Tuesday night and will blog my thoughts thereafter, Perhaps something in that will spark my interest in this flat campaign. I haven’t voted yet. The little orange card is sitting accusingly on my dining table, waiting for me to exercise my democratic right. I might wait for another week’s polling yet.
Dr Liz Gordon is a researcher and a barrister, with interests in destroying neo-liberalism in all its forms and moving towards a socially just society. She usually blogs on justice, social welfare and education topics.