Just a week after urging Americans to stay at home, Republicans are already making a strong push to send the country back to work, covid-19 and all. President Trump is determined to pull the United States out of its economic slump in a matter of weeks and is willing to defy the guidance of his own health experts to do it. It’s this prospect—a kickstart to the economy, human cost be damned—that excites craven capitalists like Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who suggested that he and other grandparents across the United States are willing to die so that people can go to work, spread coronavirus, and kill off the olds, so long as the economy gets running again.
Patrick said as much on Tucker Carlson’s white nationalism power hour Monday night on Fox News.
“You know, Tucker, no one reached out to me and said as a senior citizen, ‘Are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’” Patrick said. “And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in.”
Patrick claimed he has spoken to “hundreds” in the last week who all agree that “we can’t lose our whole country” to a covid-19 related economic collapse.
“My message is, let’s get back to work, let’s get back to living, let’s be smart about it, and those of us who are 70 plus—we’ll take care of ourselves—but don’t sacrifice the country, don’t do that, Don’t ruin this great American dream,” Patrick said.
Of course, the only way to be smart about all of this is to do the exact opposite of what he’s suggesting: Public health experts have stressed that everyone other than essential workers must hunker down in their homes to reduce the spread of covid-19; no social visits, no non-essential travel. Instead, Patrick and other Republicans are encouraging Americans to get back to work and break social distancing before the covid-19 curve has flattened—a recipe for a devastating loss of life, in a country that is still slow to respond to this crisis.
Even for the Republican Party, this “profits over people” ethos is coming across as heavy-handed. Patrick is living in a fantasy world where seniors would potentially die quiet, valiant deaths from covid-19 in the comfort of their own homes instead of in overflowing ICU alongside patients in their 30s, 40s, and 50s—some with underlying conditions, others simply unlucky. An influx of death or illness from now until a covid-19 vaccine is made available would be devastating for the U.S. economy too–but this is apparently a logical step too far for folks like Patrick.
To call Patrick’s assumption that Americans are willing to take a bullet for the Dow Jones Industrial Average naive would be an understatement. Instead, it’s a grim look into the mindset of a ghoulish political class that is proposing a large swath of the population die or live with permanent respiratory distress in lieu of the federal government simply providing support for Americans while they stay the hell inside. The Republican party has always shown that the lives they value are young, able-bodied, and ready to contribute to the economy—guess it takes a pandemic to make that even more abundantly clear.