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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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It’s certainly true that you could say that Democrats and Republicans both have been using the coronavirus covid 19 outbreak for political purposes.
There the comparison ends, however.
The ends of each political party in politicizing the disease outbreak couldn’t be more different.
Democrats and their allies have been trying to use a health crisis as an opportunity to advocate for more access.
As Wendell Potter, a health insurance industry whistleblower and author says, this outbreak could be an opportunity for Americans to finally come up with a universal healthcare system.
“Well, I think this is an opportunity for us to come to grips with the fact that we absolutely have to transform our health care system,” Potter said. “Taiwan is a country that’s right next to China, they have universal health care, and a system sort of like what Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have been advocating, and they’re in much better shape than we are, right next to China, when it comes to dealing with this virus.
“We over many years have been allowing the insurance industry to build a wall between us and the care we need brick by brick. And we’re in a situation in which not only do we have 28 million Americans who don’t have insurance, you have even people who have insurance, more than 50 million, probably 60 or 70 million, who are underinsured,” Potter added.
“And those bricks in that wall, by the way, are high deductible plans, which was a scheme by the insurance industry to boost profits, limiting our access to doctors and hospitals, and making doctors beg for approval to get coverage to treat us,” Potter said. “This has been keeping us from getting the care that we need. And people even with insurance are afraid to go to the doctor because of what they have to pay out of their own pockets.”
And then there’s the Donald Trump and Republican version of coronavirus politicization.
It’s not nearly so high-minded.
They’ve been concertedly identifying the coronavirus as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has, as the “Chinese coronavirus.”
What legitimate public policy objective, or debate, does such labeling accomplish?
Nothing but the sort of racism and xenophobia which has been part of Trump’s and the Republicans’ agenda for several years now.
Bigoted statements which spread misinformation and blame Asians and the Asian American community for #coronavirus make us all less safe. @GOPLeader must delete this tweet and apologize immediately. pic.twitter.com/twzCcVAWDH
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) March 10, 2020
Meanwhile, Trump himself has referred to the coronavirus as a “foreign virus,” CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta noted in an on-air segment with host Chris Cuomo.
“That is interesting because I was talking to sources this evening, one of the points that the president wanted to make tonight, wanted to get across to Americans is that this virus did not start here. But that they are dealing with it,” he said. “Now why the president would go as far as to describe it as a foreign virus, that is something we’ll also be asking questions about.
“But it should be pointed out that Stephen Miller, who is an immigration hardliner who advises the president is one of the top domestic policy advisers and speech writer, was a driving force in writing this speech and I think it is going to come across to a lot of Americans as smacking of xenophobia to use that kind of term in this speech, Chris,” Acosta added.
So, sure, you can say that both sides are “playing politics” with the coronavirus covid 19 outbreak.
But don’t dare draw any false equivalencies.
You have have one side using the outbreak, yes, as a jumping off point for a legitimately related public policy discussion.
And you have the other down in the sewer of racism and division where they’ve spent way too much time in last several years.
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