Sacrificial Lambs

Trump chicken

Trump chicken. Photo by Callen Harty.

“We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”

That was Donald Trump’s initial response to the coronavirus all the way back in January. Since then, it has been one failure after another, with him all the while assuring us it’s going to be just fine, it will disappear, we have it under control, and countless times stating that it will miraculously go away.

It has not gone away and he has yet to admit that he was wrong all along. It was not a hoax, it was not the flu, it had no intention of just disappearing when the weather got warmer or Trump wished hard enough.

The day the death toll in this country passed 10,000 he said there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Less than a week later that had doubled to 20,000 deaths. Now we are over 135,000.

Despite this, Trump continues to undermine his medical experts, make them alter their reporting, and ignore their recommendations. He decided to officially withdraw from the World Health Organization. Ignoring medical experts at the Centers for Disease Control, he has over the course of the pandemic spouted idiotic theories about flu vaccines, injecting disinfectants, focusing powerful light, taking hydroxychloroquine, and his favorite, waiting for the virus to make its miraculous departure.

Like George Bush’s Mission Accomplished banner, Trump’s repeated claims that we are doing better, that things are looking good, that we can start reopening the country, are nothing but wishful thinking. One has to wonder why and the answer is quite clear to anyone who has been awake this whole time.

Covid-19 makes Trump look bad because people are sick and dying, the economy has tanked, and he has been clueless about how to lead. Importantly, there is an election coming up and his narcissistic ego cannot acknowledge that he might lose because he was supposed to be responsible for leading us through this crisis and failed miserably. And continues to fail miserably.

He cannot acknowledge the failure, though. Everything that has happened has been someone else’s fault–the Chinese, the Democrats, the medical professionals. His ego prevents him from seeing just how badly he has mismanaged this crisis. His ego also prevents him from wearing a mask in public and that sends a signal to others that it is okay, that they are safe from harm. It signals that the worst is over as he has promised all along.

But, of course, it is not. Cases keep rising, death tallies keep rising, and the supposed leader of this country (and formerly of the free world) keeps failing. He does everything he can in his narcissistic head to create a world of his own making, a world in which he has valiantly led us through this pandemic to the promised land of healthy people and a healthy economy. To prove it, he starts to hold rallies and tries to strong arm mayors and governors into reopening their cities and states. People can gather to see him at political rallies, they don’t have to wear masks (because those are for the weak–how did a medical issue become a political issue, anyway?), and they can sit side-by-side without worrying about getting the disease.

All of this to look strong, to desperately try to get the economy to rebound by November, and to win an election. If some want to follow Trump off of that cliff, it is their choice to do so. But now he is demanding that schools open in the fall because, again, he wants to pretend that none of this is real, that if you close your eyes and click your heels together three times we can go home again, we can go back to the lives we were leading before, and everything will return to normal. He doesn’t understand that his land of make-believe is not real, but his narcissistic need to constantly win has put him in the position of having to believe it and of being willing to sacrifice America’s children on the altar of politics.

During this pandemic, Trump has not gone far enough in what he needed to do most of the time. Now he has gone too far. Children’s lives (and their teachers) are at stake here, as well as those who may contract the virus from them. He has threatened to withhold funding for schools that don’t start back up in the fall. He is trying to bully school districts into complying with his demands–not for their good, but for his ego and his political future. This, as much as anything he has done during his presidency, illustrates his malignant narcissism. He needs to go back to school. He needs to be educated about medicine. He needs to learn empathy and compassion. And, most importantly, he needs to leave the White House in November.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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