Guest post by Johnny Lewis
For those who don’t know, The Purge is a T.V. dystopian franchise about an annual national holiday – the Purge, in which all crimes, including murder, are legal for a 12-hour period and where the rich hunt down or buy the poor for their fun.
What links this fantasy to the reality of the pandemic is the flim-flam artist running the richest country in the world, and the consequences of his wilingness to throw anyone and everyone under the Greyhound bus to get re-elected.
In Trump’s mind re-election is linked to a buoyant economy that’s why he’s been chomping at the bit to go against medical advice and end the lock-downs. There is also something of a political logic to this, as at present the states most heavily infected vote Democrat. However to get ‘America back to work’ he needs to lay the groundwork, hence such tweets as “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”
You would be wrong, however, to conclude this is simply the musing of the world’s most powerful narcissists. A more sophisticated, more nuanced view of getting America back to work is found in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by the editorial board entitled Rethinking the Coronavirus Shut Down: its strapline says it all: ‘no, society can safeguard public health for long, at the cost of its overall economic health’. Standing shoulder to shoulder with Trump and the WSJ are many Republican politicians pushing the ‘back to work’ agenda.
Yet matters don’t end there, Trump also has his right wing news feeds such as Fox, and this is where it begins to get really dirty. Fox are trying to float a narrative about the poor. How the poor (the clip I heard was about those living on the streets in LA) choose to live, and – well – if they cannot sort themselves out, don’t want to sort themselves out, it’s nothing to us if the virus fells them.
In many countries without universal health care and with huge disparities in wealth, where social distancing is difficult to well-nigh impossible, the virus means death and further impoverishment of the poor. A case in point will be India. The U.S. is different.
For the moment Trump is riding high in the polls, and if the push-back, with Sanders front and centre, fails, we will witness a re-election campaign based on a conscious decision to sacrifice lives to the God of Mammon.
This will not be for just one night, when the rich go hunt the poor. For the moment The Purge remains a TV fantasy show. But soon we will watch on our TV’s the reality of the virus sweeping through the U.S. ushering in social Darwinism as government policy. Who needs the Purge?