Editor of the Reformer,
A president deliberately lied to the nation he is legally and morally bound to defend, about a national health crisis. The lies induced many to take unnecessary risks that have cost lives. We will never know precisely how many lives, which doesn't at all diminish the magnitude of the disaster. Does his explanation that he wanted to maintain calm and avoid panic make sense to anyone other than the president and his circle of paid defenders?
Exactly how a leader calms the people in times of crisis is one of the best measures of that leader's competence and character. When the Germans bombed London, Churchill wanted to calm Britons. He did not do that by telling them to avoid taking shelter, that the falling bombs were no worse than fireworks. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt wanted to calm Americans. He did not do that by telling them that Japan's attack had caused little damage and they were free to continue living as though nothing happened.
During the months that Trump misled America about the coronavirus danger, any competent person would have realized: (1) the true severity could not be concealed, because people would continue to get sick and die; (2) the very panic he was trying to avoid would occur as people realized the government was lying to them.
Trump competence is a delusion. Yet the president's paid defenders publicly deny what is plainly visible to all. The vice president says with straight face that the president never lied to the people, never misled them. Millions of Americans will probably continue to support the man who lied to and endangered them. The officers of Vermont's Republican Party will probably continue to support him.
We are slipping into delusion. QAnon continues to infiltrate society, riding on the shoulders of Alex Jones and the countless lies spread by FOX, a major national network. The same president who deliberately cost American lives associates himself with all those spreaders of delusion. The national Republican Party is holding a fundraiser hosted by QAnon believers. QAnon messaging appears prominently at Trump rallies and there are reports that churches are beginning to lose members to it.
The fabric connecting the nation to reality is stretching thinner. If it tears, the pandemic will seem like a period of relative calm. Perhaps that is the kind of calm the president meant all along.
Bennington, Sept. 11