A Question

I have a question.

The various iterations filter to, “If we would have had leadership at the top, we wouldn’t be in this pandemic mess.”

My question is: What specific leadership could anyone have offered at any place in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic that would have stopped the invisible enemy and avoided its deadly march around the world? More specifically its early and continued malice across the USA?

Most, if not all, instructions and insights in first three months of year have been rescinded and re-tracked at least once. Last week the WHO reversed its opinion about lockdown. Now they consider it a bad thing to do. What would February leadership have said or done then that would have still been “wise” today? In October, some are saying we need a national law on mask wearing. If only we had leaders who would have ordered national mask wearing. That would have required an act of nationalizing the private lives of its citizens. That is called Socialism. It is the practice of Communism. Which makes the question even more pointed.

There is also the Constitutional principle of State’s Rights. The Federal government cannot at will override or assume authority over state government. The president can nationalize the National Guard (maybe-?), but the Governor has the authority to call out the Guard. The Federal Government—Executive Branch is limited in sending troops into a state or city. It is up to each State to determine, not a central government. The State Government must ask for Federal help. Communist governments send in military to squash protests as the Chinese did in Hong Kong. Our Constitution places limits on such.

The question is not a defense of our current President or Federal government, it is about what (not who) could have been done in January-March, 2020? What leadership action? I guess leaders could have used fortune tellers, tea-leaf readers, soothsayers and such. That’s what it sounds like–betting on crap shoots.

We have learned that COVID is not responsive to edicts, news releases or executive orders. The scientific communities do not agree on whether masks work. Nine plus months into this pandemic and the discussion still rages among regular citizens and the Blue Ribbon experts. They are still trying to figure it out. Therefore, what could anyone have done eight or ten months ago when no one knew more than just a little bit?

To suggest that if Mr. Biden had been president things would be different in January to October, 2020. Anyone but Trump. Perhaps Hillary or Jeb Bush. Maybe Jimmy Stewart? We can only guess. To magically place a different face in the White House would change not just the person, but the social, national dynamics. It would not be the same problem. COVID or any contagious disease does not respond to votes or political rhetoric. All the alternative leaders would have the same restrictions and boundaries. Lincoln and Roosevelt declared martial law/limited writs of habeas corpus. If you grant any alternative legality, then it must be given to the current president, influencers and opinionators.

The politicians found much to dislike about John Quincy Adams. He was quirky, but he was predictable. One Washingtonian said how Adams would act in the future could be found by reading his history. I have heard others say that. We can guess or make an educated guess how others would have handled any given crisis, but we will never know. We can’t go back to the future or time travel forward. Maybe we can shakily predict how some would have acted if they had only the information the government and medical community possessed in January or March. To me, the facts are still fluid. Leaders are still making it up as they go—based on the best evidence currently available.

Much of the 2020 Presidential vote weighs heavy on the question. Outside of political harangue, it is an impossible question to answer with absolute accuracy. But that conclusion resides in my brain. You may have a better answer. If so, there are many of us who want to hear it.

Just Wondering

©2020 D. Dean Benton

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