One of the most overused tropes in sitcoms and movies is when the parents have to say something offensive or talk about something they don’t want their kid to know. Instead of using foul or inappropriate language in front of an innocent child, they will spell out the offending word—usually in whispers. (I have no idea why they whisper but they always do. Is it more difficult to comprehend a word when it’s spelled out at a low volume?)
The 6-year-old TV character is clueless when daddy asks mommy, “Where is the M-A-R-I-J-U-A-N-A?” But the kid eventually figures out why the house smells funny and their jokes are so hilarious every time mommy and daddy emerge from the backyard with a cigarette lighter when one of the adult actors (usually the comically clueless dad) inevitably ruins the child’s innocence by spelling the wrong word. The live studio audience erupts in laughter as dad whispers to make-believe mommy: “The marijuana is in the C-A-B-I-N-E-T next to the bong.”
Donald Trump is that dumb daddy.
For years, Conservatives have used dog-whistle phrases that gave them cover while offering comfort to their base. Republicans “E-N-R-I-C-H the wealthy” by vilifying progressive tax plans as “socialism.” They push “law and order” instead of calling it “P-O-L-I-C-E B-R-U-T-A-L-I-T-Y.” They perpetuate the idea that hard work and a “bootstrap mentality” will help their U-N-E-D-U-C-A-T-E-D base achieve the American Dream instead of saying “F-U-C-K poor people.” They loudly demonize radical Islamic terrorism and the movement for Black lives instead of spelling out “W-H-I-T-E S-U-P-R-E-M-A-C-Y.”
Now that America has an incompetent, dimwitted dictator as the head of the household, the Republican policy of plausible deniability has been ruined. The dunderheaded daddy of the GOP has exposed his party’s ultimate goal—maintaining their status as the sole beneficiaries of America’s corporate, economic and political profiteering. But Donald Trump is too illiterate at politics to know which parts of his party’s nefarious agenda he can say out loud and which parts require a high-pitched dog whistle that can only be heard by racists, people who watch Fox News and CEOs of major corporations.
As long as there is a profit, Republicans don’t care if you D-I-E.
Writing in all caps, Trump explained to his Twitter followers on Monday that we cannot let “the cure” for slowing down the spread of coronavirus (social distancing, temporarily shutting down businesses and staying at home) be worse than “the problem” (losing his political clout and millions of people slowly dying from an incurable virus).
“You can destroy a country this way, by closing it down,” Trump said during a Fox News interview from the luxurious, assumingly coronavirus-free Rose Garden. “We lose thousands and thousands of people a year to the flu, but we don’t turn the country off. We lose much more than that to automobile accidents. We don’t call the automobile companies and say, ‘Stop making automobiles.’”
It’s not just the president. Many of Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans are also cool with a coronavirus genocide if it means rich people don’t lose money and he keeps his job. On Monday evening’s episode of White Nationalism Lite with Tucker Carlson, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (Not the guy from SportsCenter—the man who’s the second-in-charge of America’s second-most populous state) said the quiet part out loud, explaining why he’s willing to sacrifice millions of Americans in exchange for economic prosperity.
“No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’” said Patrick to Tucker. “And if that is the exchange, I’m all in.”
“I was very clear last night that we should continue President Trump’s 15-day plan and if he believes we need more time, then we need more time. I trust his judgment,” Patrick said in a statement to CNN on Tuesday after people criticized his death plan for America. “But at some point, sooner rather than later, we must get back to work before our nation totally collapses.”
You and I both know that Dan Patrick is not going to die from COVID-19.
Dan Patrick knows it, too. Not only is he protected by the best medical care money and power can buy but he is probably hunkered down with the governor of Texas in a virus-proof, triple-filtered bunker guarded by Texas Rangers carrying M-16s retrofitted with Lysol-exploding bullets. No, Dan Patrick doesn’t have to worry about coronavirus, which is why he’d gladly allow it to run amok to preserve his grandchildren’s inherited privilege.
The next night, in an apparent attempt to find a Caucasianologist whose name is even whiter than “Tucker Carlson” or “Dan Patrick,” Fox News rounded up Brit Hume, who elaborated on Patrick’s belief that dead presidents are worth more than dead people.
“The utter collapse of the country’s economy, which many think will happen if this goes on much longer, is an intolerable result,” Hume said Britly. “He [Patrick] is saying that he’d be taking a risk of getting the disease if that’s what it took to allow the economy to move forward.”
Also, where is “the America that all America loves?”
Is it the same America where the top 1 percent is wealthier than the bottom 90 percent combined? Is Patrick talking about the country where white people have a dollar for every dime a black person owns? Is that the America that their dear leader wants to make great again?
To be clear, enacting the most extreme measures to stop the coronavirus would devastate the economy. People would lose jobs. Corporations would collapse. Mar-a-Lago would be forced to sell ramen noodles and Brit Hume and Dan Patrick’s grandchildren might have to sell their third vacation homes and lose all that compound interest on their trust funds. I shudder to even think about what Ivanka would have to do if she had to survive on intelligence and hard work. I’m sure Donald Jr. would rather die if he had to cancel his trip to that exclusive Galapagos Islands nature preserve that lets him use a machine gun to hunt domesticated albino tigers chained to a fencepost. They’d rather see us die.
And people would die by the millions.
Covid Act Now, a website built by “a team of data scientists, engineers, and designers in partnership with epidemiologists, public health officials, and political leaders,” estimates that if Patrick’s home state of Texas takes no further action, the state’s death toll could reach 530,000—more than the total number of U.S. casualties in World War I and World War II combined. In a worst-case scenario, the CDC says as many as 1.7 million people could die nationwide, which means more Americans could die from coronavirus than from all of the wars in American history (1.1 million).
But the economy, though.
These people aren’t patriots. They don’t love their country nor are they trying to preserve its economic superiority. They are simply scrambling to find an excuse for why they are willing to trade the lives of regular people in exchange for their position atop America’s economic, social and political pyramid. That’s the entire point of Republicanism. What they call their adherence to “tradition” and “conservative principles” is just a complex, centuries-long attempt at maintaining the status quo.
It’s also the point of white supremacy.
It has nothing to do with belief and it is not necessarily about hate. It is about self-preservation. White people didn’t create the trans-Atlantic slave trade because they hated Africans—they were just willing to set aside their humanity and enslave human beings because it benefitted them economically. Segregation was less about hating black schoolchildren and more about maintaining the economic and educational advantages that whiteness offers. Donald Trump, Stephen Miller and their MAGA supporters don’t hate immigrants. They are simply willing to spend millions of American dollars building a wall and locking children in cages to preserve the demographic constitution of the American populace and…
Also, they hate immigrants.
And that’s why they are willing to risk millions of American lives in a high-stakes game of coronavirus poker. Because, at the betting tables of their luxurious casino, our lives aren’t real. We are all just chips for them to gamble with. If they win, they can turn their winnings into real money. And if they lose, they will softly whisper why they did it:
Because they don’t give a F-U-C-K.