Times of crisis tend to rip off the covers concealing our strange and irrational psyches. It feels, in a way, like visiting a museum of psychological deformities. Among the saddest of displays is the resentment of hope.
Terrified of good news, Democrat pundits and much of Washington’s press corps lost their digestive fortitude after President Donald Trump discussed the promising potential of administering hydroxychloroquine to critical COVID-19 patients. This group, so invested in Trump’s demise, would consider inadequate anything short of a 30-year longitudinal peer-reviewed double-blind placebo-controlled study of this remarkably safe drug, and akin to believing Bigfoot shot JFK, the moon landing never happened, or that Trump colluded with the Russians to win the 2016 election. You know, things only the most delusional believe.
The front-line medical community has begun to widely embrace the use of hydroxychloroquine to fight COVID-19. With few side effects and mounting positive evidence of favorable outcomes from other nations’ short-term small-scale trials — doctors see far more upside in its use. Yet, when President Trump points it out, all hell breaks loose. How dare a president offer a sliver of hope to the American people! Thankfully he didn’t mention anything about a shining city on a hill, change we can believe in, or prosperity and progress; these are things presidents should never say, because hope is the new cruelty. Maybe this year’s Democrat campaign slogan should be “Fear without Relief, 2020!”
Aversion to hope is not limited to the press corps and national Democrats. Most of us have probably witnessed on social media the weird reaction of anger toward anyone sharing data showing a flattening curve, a legitimate promising treatment, or a reduction in anticipated COVID-19 deaths. Cautious relief — the appropriate rational response — somehow steals the rush that comes with fear, or the superior virtue that comes with preaching to others the inadequacy of their virus-avoiding hygiene or imperfect observance of social distancing, or the secret desire that a prolonged deadly pandemic might — just might — stop Donald Trump from a second term. But when the pandemic turns out to be not so prolonged, or not so deadly… well, dammit! There went its political value.
The initial models — based on implausible but politically expedient assumptions — suggested over 2 million people could die. Revised down once those figures became indefensible, we began to see a range of 100,000 to 240,000 deaths — even with all of our lockdowns and precautions. These numbers are far less horrific, but still possibly horrific enough to win in November, because orange man bad!
I hate to be the bearer of bad good news, but the very latest numbers are suggesting that the U.S. will likely now see 60,000 deaths from Coronavirus, down from 82,000 estimated deaths last week, down from 120,000 before that, down from 240,000, down from as many as 2.2 million deaths. Last week, almost 400 Idahoans were expected to die from the virus. At this writing, the estimate — based on an increasing body of sound data — looks like Idaho’s Coronavirus death toll will be somewhere around 57 people, total.
If steadily declining numbers and a flattening curve aren’t a relief to you, and instead you feel anger at the suggestion, or the sense you’ve been deprived of something important or politically advantageous — socially distance yourself and go sit by a lake for a few hours and think about where you are in your life.
Maybe I was wrong about those who resent hope. Maybe their hope is just different. Maybe their hope is that a long and deadly pandemic would have proven valuable in November. And that’s a sick hope not even hydroxychloroquine can help.
Associated Press award-winning columnist Neal Larson of Idaho Falls is a conservative talk show host on KID Newsradio 106.3 and 92.1, heard weekday mornings from 6:00 to 10:00. Read more of his work and contact him at www.neallarson.com.