To Live and Die in the Land of the Virtual Nobodies

It's not that the 200,000 dead are virtually nobody. It's that anybody he has no use for is.

One of Trump’s recent public remarks about the COVID-19 death toll was mostly covered in terms of downplaying the numbers.

My initial reaction on reading these words was that the focus on the death toll misses the story. Those 200,000 (and sadly climbing!) people all matter, but the numbers of the dead are swamped by the numbers of people listed as “recovered”, many of whom are dealing with long-term and possibly permanent effects we still know almost nothing about.

The linked tweet there contains numerous replies from other people sharing their “recovery” stories, stories of ongoing debilitation and injury. I would not be the first or the fiftieth person to point out that if the Trump government legal team succeeds in overturning pre-existing condition protections, every single person who was exposed to the coronavirus may find themselves saddled with a prohibitively expensive pre-existing condition.

But the thing is, even talking about the number of people affected is missing the real story, because when Donald Trump talks about “virtually nobody”, he’s not referring to numbers. He’s talking about significance.

The people who have been affected, he is saying, are virtually nobody.

They are, to him, virtually nobodies.

In his mind, it’s the poor, the weak, the sick, the infirm… not people weakened by this illness, but people who contracted the illness because they were weak. Because they were not clever enough or good enough to get a job that kept them out of the line of fire. Because they were not privileged enough to stay home and pay people to do their necessary chores. Because they were not daring enough to capture a high political office where the smartest people in the country have to spend unlimited money trying to keep you safe in a protective bubble.

How many times has he said that if you take out the blue states and the Democrat-led cities, then the numbers get so much better? How many times have his proxies argued that the numbers being used aren’t telling the real story? His preferred story is that there are two Americas.

In the strong and wise Real America, the coronavirus is little more than a distant bout of bad news, and like all news one does not want to hear, it’s categorically fake.

In the weak and degenerate Other America, the virus is running wild, but who is it hurting? A bunch of virtual nobodies. New Yorkers who didn’t recognize his worth when he walked among them and refused to bend the knee and help crown him king. Nobodies!

Trump’s entire worldview converges on this one point. People who fight and die in the military? Losers and suckers. He got out of it, why couldn’t they? He’s talked how many times about “the brain thing” and “the gene thing”?

Even his religious outlook leans this way, heavy on prosperity gospel, the power of positive thinking, and the Law of Attraction.

Herman Cain? To Donald Trump, they both ran for president and one of them won. They both were active in Republican politics at the same time and one of them became the so-called leader of the free world and the other became a shameless flunky. They both went to his rally in Tulsa and remained maskless in the same venue, but one of them is still just as healthy as he was on that day and the other… well, they say there’s a sucker born every minute, but as far as Donald John Trump is concerned, the worst kind of sucker is the one who dies every minute.

Death is a mug’s game! You wouldn’t catch Donald Trump dead on the wrong the side of the grass! It’s not that he fears the reaper. Oh, no, because fear is a weakness and he doesn’t have weakness. He doesn’t have to fear Death, though, because he’s got his number. Who’s going to get caught sleeping when their life is on the line?

A bunch of nobodies.

Virtual nobodies.

To Donald Trump it doesn’t matter if 200,000 have died or 2,000,000, and it doesn’t even matter how they died. What matters is: they died, which means they couldn’t hack it, which means they’re not worth worrying about.

They’re virtually nobody.