World

As US covid cases edge up to 100,000 per day, a referendum on the pandemic- and the truth about it

WASHINGTON: He has promised to “Fire Fauci” after the elections, but the coronavirus may fire him before that.
As it heads into Election Day on Tuesday November 3, the United States is tipping into a record territory of 100,000 coronavirus cases per day in the midst of what history could well record as the Pandemic Election.
It could also be called a referendum on truth with the pandemic at the center of it. A President who at various times has claimed he has done a masterful job of containing it, said it is no big deal, and has presented himself as a superman who took it head on and defeated it- even though 230,000 Americans have died from it.
At a rally on Tuesday, as Trump made his case on the pandemic issue, fervid supporters who are in line with his thinking erupted with chants of “Fire Fauci!” – referring to the nation’s top infectious disease expert who set the agenda for how to combat the virus before Trump overturned it.
“Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait ’til a little bit after the election, please. I appreciate the advice,” Trump responded fauz-conspiratorially.
At the other end of the political spectrum, Democrat voters want Biden to appoint Fauci as the head of the coronavirus task force- after the people fire Trump and Pence, the current task force head. For now, Biden has said that if voted to power, he would put into place a Covid-19 action plan on the first day of his presidency.
In some ways, the election has boiled down to that one issue- and facts and fiction surrounding it.
Trump has a 59 per cent DISAPPROVAL rating for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. That still leaves 37 per cent who APPROVE of his handling- people who are more sick and fatigued with the closures and the economic loss it has caused than from the virus itself.
If voters cast ballots on the basis of the pandemic handling ratings alone, then Trump would seem to be toast, particularly after he aggravated the four million strong medical community by suggesting doctors were profiting from the pandemic, and followed it up by attacking Fauci’s cult status.
“You have to live in an echo chamber the size of a walnut to think attacking Dr. Fauci is good electoral politics,” noted veteran journalist Dan Rather.
But then, Trump is now considered a bigger cult figure than Fauci. And unlike Fauci, whose medical expertise causes him to focus singularly on the pandemic, Trump has a more expansive and positive view that appeals to those who feel one should not be cowed down for a virus which is not as lethal as it was once thought to be.
Most people have already had a say on this. In fact, the pandemic is ironically the reason for the massive turnout. Nearly 100 million people, two-thirds of the expected turnout, would have voted even before Election Day, leaving only about 50 million to exercise their franchise.
Many stood in line for hours- sometimes up to 6-8 hours in heat, rain, and cold- to have their say in what is widely acknowledged as the most consequential election in modern American history. One that is also a referendum on truth- and consequences.

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