I stopped at the coffee shop after Joe Biden’s strong Super Tuesday showing. The friendly cackle of one of the regulars greeted me. Gaffe memes of Biden blowing up my phone entertained me as I waited in line. Joe brings out the latent sense of humor in my right-leaning friends, an otherwise dour bunch.
“Super Tuesday’s in the books,” my grizzled friend said with a smirk. “Looks like you have your work cut out for you with that senile old gaffe-master.”
I ordered my cup of joe, black, simple, untarnished by the stain of multiple bankruptcies, failed marriages or the permanent sour taste of impeachment. I refrained from pointing out Biden’s strong showing indicates Ol’ 45 had very good reason to call Ukraine and ask them to investigate his likely opponent in November—or from noting there is still plenty of time to convince Jimmy Carter to come out of retirement at a brokered Democratic convention in Milwaukee.
“Now we can devote our energy to stamping out the covfefe virus,” I said.
“You mean coronavirus,” he condescendingly corrected with a smile as he headed out the door. “Starting to sound like Joe, gaffing your way through life. The poor man doesn’t even know what he’s trying to say.”
“And that coronavirus is fake news—Democrats trying to make the president look bad for something that’s not his fault. He’s the victim here.”
“A global pandemic isn’t any president’s fault.” I nodded in agreement.
I really do agree with my coffee shop friend. The coronavirus (COVID-19) is not Ol’ 45’s fault; some alarmists in the press are overstating the danger of the virus, and some opportunists are politicizing the virus to make the president look even worse than he already does. Viruses are a special kind of illegal immigrant that no border wall will protect against completely. Issues, such as climate change, nuclear proliferation, 2008’s economic meltdown and COVID-19, remind us we live in a global habitat in which national borders are arbitrary squiggly lines drawn by a fragile human ego.
But I didn’t misspeak. Ol’ 45 isn’t a victim of the Democratic Party or fake news. He is the victim of what I identify as covfefe virus—a failed radical nationalist ideology that has recently led to Brexit, Ol’ 45’s election, and the increasing percentage of seats won by ultra-right-wing nationalist parties throughout the developed world. I’m not the first person to consider nationalism a virus. Albert Einstein said, “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”
Like an actual virus, radical nationalism mutates. It finds vulnerable host populations, perhaps changes a slogan from the “Deutchland Uber Alles” of Einstein’s Germany to “America First,” and spreads around the globe again. Ol’ 45’s immigration policies, pulling out of the climate accords, and militarized “America First” foreign policy, have helped spread radical nationalism in our Republic.
The global impact of the single-stranded RNA COVID-19 virus will be a tragedy for some families throughout the world, but it seems unlikely it will be as bad as the 1918 influenza virus. The 1918 strain infected a third of the world’s population—50 million people to be exact. One and five percent of the global human population died. Hopefully, COVID-19 won’t come close to the destruction caused by the virus of radical nationalist rhetoric that progressed into the cancer of militarized fascism in the 1930s and resulted in the deaths of approximately 85 million people.
Containing COVID-19 and covfefe requires us to “Act Local, Think Global.” We need to wash our hands to reduce exposure to COVID-19 because we understand the global reach of the bug. We need county commissioners, state representatives and senators who advocate for local needs while they “Think Globally” because we understand slogans, such as “America First,” are rooted in fear and prevent us from rising to the actual challenges of surviving the global human habitat.
It’s still too early to tell if America will wake up to a cup of Joe or Bernie’s brew in November. But it’s clear that America needs a remedy for the covfefe virus that we’ve suffered from since 2016’s elections.