Opinion: Politicizing the Coronavirus is Costing American Lives

An Artist’s Rendition of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19

An Artist’s Rendition of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19

Kevin Duffy, Writer

Over the last several weeks, it has become obvious that COVID-19 is here and here to stay. To what degree we will have to battle it in the months and years ahead is still yet to be seen, but in the here and now, the situation has quickly developed into a generation-shaping crisis. In the years ahead, the term “coronavirus” will be used in the same sentence with “9/11” and “Pearl Harbor” to describe a tragedy which shaped the worldview of our future generations. 

However, this time around, the enemy is invisible, and refuses to recognize our differences of race, religion, nationality, or political identity, and as such, has exposed our nation’s susceptibility to putting our differences first. Victory in World War II was won as much in the homes and factories on America’s soil as it was won on the battlefield. In the weeks and months following 9/11, Americans experienced a period of unity and togetherness that has not been replicated in the years since, and yet another crisis of this magnitude must be met with the same mentality.

A pandemic’s reign of terror does not last for just one day. There are no explosions, no bombs, no guns, nobody who we can point to as a common enemy. Instead, the pain is felt behind closed curtains in hospital beds where, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, hundreds of thousands of Americans could die. 

Over the past decade, American politics, both on Capitol Hill and on ordinary streets have become increasingly more polarized. Both politicians and everyday Americans have become so entrenched in their political ideologies that it can become easy to lose sight of the common good when it means sacrificing something so important to you.

The political right has moved further right, and the left has moved further left. This polarizing is a trend that is not new, but has helped contribute to a society in which it is harder to trust or listen to opposing viewpoints. Many political experts have said that this helped lead to the increased spread of misinformation over the last several years and the rise of long-shot presidential candidates like Donald Trump. 

Now, a national crisis has exposed that divide. As the situation has worsened, the vast majority of Americans are heeding the advice given to them, and recognizing the situation for what it has become, but in the early moments, when action on a pandemic is most important, both sides of the political spectrum has different things to say about how serious this would eventually become, and a rampant spread of misinformation only exacerbated what was already a bleak situation.

Although by now, many Americans have come together, our only choice is to bear the brunt of what will be a tough couple of weeks.