This week, the Republican National Convention convened and devolved into a series of scare tactics meant to rile up President Trump’s base and be so outrageous that the rest of the country looks away from his and other Republican officials’, like Governor Mike Parson’s, disastrous, bumbling, and irresponsible responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, a pandemic that has infected nearly 77,000 Missourians and killed nearly 180,000 Americans.
President Trump and the GOP turned the convention into a roundup of social media stars, harkening back to his reality TV days which favored shock and awe over substance. On Monday, Mark and Patricia McCloskey were featured speakers. The McCloskeys, who pointed guns at non-violent protesters marching for racial equity and criminal justice reform, used their time to continue the GOP’s attack on Black leaders and elected officials. President Trump and Missouri Republicans up and down the ballot have gone out of their way to attack Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, leading to death threats. Cori Bush, poised to be the first Black woman to be elected to Congress in Missouri, was attacked for leading protests after the murder of George Floyd and stating that Black lives matter. Black elected officials in Missouri have been sent razor blades. They’ve received racist, misogynistic, and dehumanizing letters containing threats of lynching, of being “hunted” down.
When Patricia McCloskey stated concern for “basic safety and security in our communities,” it was apparent she wasn’t talking about every community. She wasn’t referring to the basic safety and security for African American communities, who are facing disproportionate rates of infection and death from COVID-19.
The GOP has done all they can to take our eyes off the reasons why Americans are hurting. In the midst of an ongoing health and economic crisis, President Trump and Republicans are desperately trying to distract us from reality with lies. We cannot lift restrictions, open the gates to the economy, or return to in-person education without first addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fear mongering and dog whistling about invasions of crime into the suburbs are just election-year talking points President Trump, Governor Parson, and Trump’s Republican Party are going to use, thinking they can scare you into voting for them. The reality, if Trump is re-elected, is much scarier. The president has given up on getting the pandemic under control, shrugging off deaths of Americans as “it is what it is.” Combine that careless and reckless attitude with the continued attack on the Affordable Care Act and the protections it offers for pre-existing conditions, millions of Americans could be facing the pandemic without affordable healthcare. Governor Parson, who has himself shrugged off the deaths due to COVID-19, has bragged about the savings Missouri saw from kicking over 100,000 children off their healthcare.
Healthcare is on the ballot this November, leadership and decency is on the ballot this November. Together, we can elect leaders who will work to keep us safe, not distract us with gimmicks and rhetoric that feeds hate.