We rethink the week with Val Endress, professor of political communications at Rhode Island College; Dean Spiliotis, Civic Scholar and Presidential Scholar at Southern New Hampshire University; and Paul Peter Jesep, attorney, former aide to Sen. Susan Collins and former Republican.
We discuss the protests in many states against governors who continue to close public spaces and require people to shelter in place and wear masks. The protesters – some of whom carry guns, even into State legislative buildings – claim that their constitutional rights are being violated by government measures that are intended to protect the general public from further outbreaks of COVID-19.
We note that Trump and the right-wing media are also aggressively pushing for a “return to normal” despite warnings from health professionals that that might jeopardize public health. Trump et al have joined in criticizing states’ caution about lifting health precautions, but only when the health-conscious governor is a Democrat. They don’t mention any of the Republican governors who have issued similar orders to protect their states’ constituents. Trump et al have also shifted blame to immigrants and other vulnerable populations for our country’s failure to prepare for and control the coronavirus.
We are concerned about the way white nationalists and others on the radical right fringes are using this pandemic to help further their own anti-democratic agendas. The American “experiment” with freedom and democracy is under enough of a threat already because of the health challenges which will no doubt burden our elections, and, of course, with Pres. Trump’s apparent unwillingness to relinquish power (deeming any possible election loss to have been “fraudulent”).
Finally, we discuss Joe Biden’s Tara Reade problem, which is also a problem for Democrats and for the “me too” movement. As so often happens, the problem itself may or may not have “happened” – and Biden says it didn’t – but the way he handled it has made it much more difficult for Democrats, women and progressives to support his candidacy enthusiastically. How can anyone explain why Biden refused even to discuss the allegations for such a long time, why he acted as if the matter were too trivial to be worth his time? Why didn’t he treat Reade’s claims the same way he treated Dr. Blasey Ford’s allegations against Brett Kavanaugh: These are important issues and the facts must be fully investigated; once we know all the facts, we can fairly assess what actions should be taken.