President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet Meeting in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet Meeting in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Former congressman Joe Walsh voted for Trump in 2016, but in his op-ed for COURIER he explains why he won’t be voting for him again.

I’m angry.

I’m scared, confused, frustrated, worried, and nervous. But, mostly, I’m just really angry. Another week of horrible unemployment numbers, with almost 3 million Americans filing first-time jobless claims last week, the 8th straight one with that number in the millions. In total, 36.5 million jobless claims have been filed nationwide in the past eight weeks.

Though stunning, that number surely undercounts the total. That is 36 million jobs lost, erasing the 22 million jobs created in the past 10 years. Yes, the Trump administration has presided over the loss of the entirety of American job creation for the past decade. That number includes manufacturers, farmers, wait staff, firefighters, construction workers, and teachers. Their jobs are just gone.

Add to all of this the 90,000 deaths—the loss of sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters. Right now, we are projected to hit over 140,000 dead in the U.S. by early August.

More than 100,000 small businesses have already permanently closed, and many more won’t make it through the pandemic, leaving countless livelihoods destroyed as entire industries reckon with the reality that they may never be the same. We’re talking about an economic catastrophe in this country that could be worse than the Great Depression. 

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I’m angry because it didn’t have to be close to this bad. Why did it end up this way? Why do we, with 4% of the world’s population, have so far 30% of the world’s coronavirus cases?

It’s simple. America wasn’t prepared for this virus. We weren’t ready.

This leads to the obvious follow-up questions: How could the most powerful nation on the planet not be ready? Why weren’t we prepared?

Sadly, that answer is pretty straightforward: President Donald J. Trump.

In 2016, I voted for Trump. Like some of you reading this, I believed his act and thought nothing could be worse than Hillary Clinton. I was wrong, as so many of us were.

Go ahead and point a finger at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); criticize government bureaucrats, scientists, and experts; blame Congress if it makes you feel better.

But we have one president, and he really has only one job: To defend us from enemies both foreign and domestic. Well, coronavirus is one big-ass enemy.

The guy I voted for last time didn’t do his job. And the evidence against him is extensive. Trump was first told about the virus in late December and repeatedly throughout the month of January. He ignored these warnings, refused to read intelligence reports, didn’t listen to health officials, talked over scientists and doctors, trashed a plan for dealing with pandemics left behind by the Obama administration, and shut down a pandemic early warning program that trained scientists in China and other countries how to detect and respond to threats like this virus. 

Even more than all of that, Trump downplayed the virus and lied to the American people from the early stages of the outbreak. There are far too many examples to list: claiming the virus was “under control,” that it is no worse than the flu, that “within a few days” cases would be down “close to zero,” that the virus would gone by April, and on and on it goes. His administration issued guidelines for reopening by Easter and then Trump encouraged states to ignore his own guidelines. 

“We have one president, and he really has only one job: To defend us from enemies both foreign and domestic.”

If Trump had taken this virus seriously from the beginning—shut things down just a few weeks earlier—the data clearly shows that tens of thousands of lives would have been saved. Plus, our economy would not have taken such a big hit, and like South Korea, New Zealand, and the many other countries that took this virus seriously early on, we would be on a much faster track to getting back to normal.

So, you’re probably wondering why Trump ignored this virus, why he didn’t prepare, and why he lied to the American people about it? I wrote a book a few months back, “F*ck Silence: Calling Trump Out for the Cultish, Moronic, Authoritarian Con Man He Is.” In it, I explain that Trump’s unfit to be president because he’s fundamentally incapable of telling the truth or of placing the nation’s interests ahead of his own. That is a dangerous kind of a person to have in the White House—especially during a once-in-a-lifetime disaster.

All Trump cared about from the moment he learned of the virus was his own re-election. So, he ignored the early warnings of this devastating virus, hoping it would just go away and the economy would stay strong so he could cruise to victory in November.

Many people saw through him in 2016. Sadly, I wasn’t one of them. If you, like me, voted for him, perhaps it was because you’re a conservative who wasn’t 100% sold on Trump but thought him the lesser of two evils. Maybe you didn’t vote for him but were so opposed to voting for a Democrat you supported Gary Johnson. Or perhaps at the end of the day, you just wanted your taxes cut, so Trump it was.

Regardless of the reason, we can all make a difference this time by pulling the lever for a man we may disagree with on some or many issues, but who is, at his core, a decent, compassionate, experienced, and competent man. That would be moderate, Democratic nominee, Joe Biden.

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Ninety-thousand lives and 36.5 million American jobs lost. That’s where we are now, and we are only at the beginning of this thing.

America is paying a huge price for a president who is incapable of doing what’s best for Americans.

It matters—it really matters—that we have an honorable president who can look out for us and level with us. Let’s make sure we swear in that president, Joe Biden, next January.