One of my neighbors put a new sign in the yard today that reads: “Vote Pro-Life.” I want to knock on the door and ask one question: “Do you mean you’re going to vote against abortion, or do you mean you’re going to vote for the sanctity of life?”
Let’s say this once more with feeling: Just because you’re against abortion doesn’t mean you’re “pro-life.”
Likewise, the policies of the Trump administration may be “anti-abortion” but they are definitely not “pro-life.” Which takes me to a sign another of my neighbors has had up for several weeks now in big red letters: “GOD is in the REPUBLICAN PLATFORM.”
That’s a curious statement, because the Republican Party famously refused to adopt a new platform for 2020. Instead, it passed a resolution that said: “The Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the president’s America-first agenda” and “the 2020 Republican National Convention will adjourn without adopting a new platform until the 2024 Republican National Convention.”
The failures of this administration to honor and preserve life are numerous — more on that in a moment — but the most glaring example got amplified by the president himself this week when he said Americans are tired of hearing from “these idiots,” meaning public health experts who have been valiantly trying to save lives during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Chief among those annoying idiots, in the president’s view, is Anthony Fauci.”
Chief among those annoying idiots, in the president’s view, is Anthony Fauci, the highest-profile figure in American life who has been trying to tell us the truth even when his boss doesn’t want him to. In a phone call with campaign staff yesterday, Trump called Fauci a “disaster.”
This is the same Anthony Fauci the president’s own re-election campaign improperly used in a TV ad to make it look like the doctor had commended the president for his response to COVID-19, when in fact he had not.
Here is the unvarnished truth: Nearly 220,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 this year, and that is the low-end known estimate. The U.S. accounts for 4% of the world’s population but 22% of coronavirus deaths.
To claim, as Mike Pence has done, that many more lives would have been lost if not for the leadership of the Trump administration is as outlandish as the kind of lies Trump himself tells. What Pence said denies the reality of the rest of the world around us.
In comparing the way other wealthy countries have handled the virus, Vox gave these statistics that were current as of early September and would be even more stark today:
- If the U.S. had the same death rate as the European Union overall, nearly 84,000 Americans wouldn’t have died from COVID-19.
- If the U.S. had the same death rate as Canada, nearly 109,000 Americans wouldn’t have died from COVID-19.
- If the U.S. had the same death rate as Germany, more than 152,000 Americans wouldn’t have died from COVID-19.
- If the U.S. had the same death rate as Australia, more than 179,000 Americans wouldn’t have died from COVID-19.
- If the U.S. had the same death rate as Japan, more than 185,000 Americans wouldn’t have died from COVID-19.
All this has led several commentators to ask a variation on this question: “Has any single person ever killed more Americans than Donald Trump?” The only thing close in the modern era would be the 400,000 U.S. soldiers lost during World War II because a U.S. president sent them to war. There is no other comparison — even if you cut the current U.S. coronavirus death toll in half.
What we have known, and what we still know, is that more aggressive action from the White House would have saved lives. We know that the president’s own denial of the pandemic has caused Americans to be less cautious than they should be and that the administration’s bungling caused medical supplies to run short and thereby kill off even the health care workers giving themselves to life-saving tasks.
“There is nothing ‘pro-life’ about this administration’s response to COVID-19.”
There is nothing “pro-life” about this administration’s response to COVID-19, not even in the president’s own bout with the illness and irresponsible actions since being diagnosed.
The same could be said for the deadly effects of Trump’s “America First” policies that have denied desperate asylum seekers care in the United States, allowed discrimination against LGBTQ citizens, supported capital punishment, fomented racist attacks, denied the reality of climate change, and worked overtime to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and therefore take away health insurance from millions of Americans. Not to mention the attempt — this week blocked by a federal judge — to take away food stamps from 700,000 unemployed and hungry Americans during this pandemic.
It turns out that “America First” is not “pro-life” after all. Where is God in that kind of platform?
Mark Wingfield serves as executive director and publisher of Baptist News Global.