2020: The Year Republicans Wanted You to Just Die Already

And if you're a Black or brown person, well, we're screwed.

[PHOTO: Trump supporters at a rally]
A staunch refusal to wear a mask became a political statement to Trump loyalists who think wearing a piece of cloth over one’s face is submission to tyranny. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

If we learned one thing this year it’s this: Republicans don’t care if you die. And if you happen to be Black or brown, I hate to break it to you, but Republicans seem to be actively trying to kill you.

In fact, if you would be so kind as to dump a little coronavirus onto a mirror, cut it up with a credit card, and snort it—you know, real Don Jr.-type behavior—that would be fantastic.

In the beginning of the pandemic, as stay-at-home orders and lockdowns swept the nation, it seemed like we might be able to get this thing under control. After all, so many other countries had managed it. I was hopeful.

But, as it turns out, I had forgotten that we are a nation of rugged individualists—aka selfish assholes who are unwilling to adjust their behavior at all to protect their neighbors from the coronavirus—and we are being led by a megalomaniac who doesn’t care about anything or anyone but himself.

In September, we found out that Trump knew how deadly the pandemic would be. On February 7—more than a month before states would begin to initiate lockdown measures—Trump acknowledged in a taped interview with Bob Woodward that the virus was deadly and easily transmittable. “You just breathe the air, and that’s how it’s passed,” he said.

But for months afterward, Trump proceeded as if the virus was no big deal, and he did nothing to stop it. No testing and contact tracing to curtail the spread. No acquisition and distribution of PPE to the health-care workers who needed it. And when he finally did begin to distribute needed supplies, he stuck it to the states led by governors he didn’t like. Sorry New York, California, and Michigan—no supplies for you.

Trump also told people not to wear masks and refused to wear one himself. He held indoor rallies where there was no social distancing. He treated the virus like a hoax. He insisted that schools be reopened even though he knew that the virus was deadly and affected children as well as adults. He said the virus would disappear once the weather got warm. And every time he opened the hole in his face, his loyal sycophants believed all the words that fell out.

Not only did they refuse to wear masks, they gathered at rallies to protest having to wear masks. They invented fake medical conditions and insisted they had a doctor’s note that allowed them to spew their germs everywhere. They attended his indoor rallies, and some of them died because of it. (Bye-bye, Herman Cain.) A staunch refusal to wear a mask became a political statement to Trump loyalists who think wearing a piece of cloth over one’s face is submission to tyranny.

We could have nipped this pandemic in the bud and saved hundreds of thousands of lives. But we’re a nation of selfish dipshits who worship at the altar of capitalism, led by a man-child who to this day is ignoring the pandemic in favor of filing dozens of lawsuits trying to overturn the election results.

We’re also a nation that has no regard for the lives and livelihoods of Black people. By mid-May, after two months of shelter-in-place orders, the screaming began: I need a haircut! I need to get jacked, which means I have to go to the gym and spray sweat and fluids all over the place! I need to go rub up against somebody’s backside as I stand nuts to butts in a crowded bar!

It wasn’t lost on me that these cries to reopen businesses grew louder once the media started reporting that Black and brown people were dying at twice the rate white people were. As white people continued freaking out about not being able to engage in palpably dangerous activities in the middle of a pandemic, the virus was decimating communities of color. (Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its estimate: Black and brown people are dying at about three times the rate white people are.)

Certainly it would have made more sense if the federal government had issued a nationwide stay-at-home order in March and provided direct cash payments to people so that they could protect themselves and stay home. But that would have meant “handouts” to Black people, and we all know how the right feels about handouts: They love them about as much as they love Obama phones. So instead we got saccharine sentiments calling wage workers “essential” and lauding them as heroes—as if a person working for minimum wage at a restaurant and risking exposure to COVID-19 wouldn’t prefer that the government provide money to stay home and feed their families.

We also got a state-by-state patchwork of COVID-related orders and a federal response that saw Trump and his merry band of nincompoops refusing to wear masks, lying and saying that masks don’t work, playing Mean Girls games with Democratic governors, and exhibiting a stubborn refusal to even acknowledge that the pandemic was serious. And to top it all off, Trump addressed the nation and actually suggested people inject bleach into their bodies—you know, because if bleach is good enough to disinfect your countertops, then why wouldn’t it be good enough to disinfect your lungs. It makes perfect sense.

About two weeks into the lockdown, former talk-radio host turned conservative ding-dong Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of Texas appeared on Fox News and said old people should just die already. The economy was simply too important to allow businesses to remain shuttered. He said he’d be willing to kick off early if it meant a strong economy for his grandchildren, and he decided that everyone over the age of 70 should be willing to die for the Dow as well.

I mocked him at the time, but in retrospect perhaps some kudos are warranted. After all, he had the stones to say out loud what most Republicans were thinking. Perhaps credit is due for being brutally honest and revealing yourself to be an absolute ghoul.

Perhaps some kudos to Trump are also warranted; after all, in May he admitted that some people would be affected:

“The people of our country are warriors. … I’m not saying anything is perfect, and yes, will some people be affected? Yes. Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open and we have to get it open soon.”

Turns out those “some people” are primarily Black and brown, and really who cares about us.