Trump utilized the 'full force of the authoritarian cult of personality that surrounds him' to downplay coronavirus: op-ed
President Donald Trump (Photo: Screen capture)

Writing in The Atlantic this Friday, Adam Serwer declared that President Trump "is a menace to public health."

Serwer clarifies that he's not referring to Trump's policies or history of corruption; he's referring to the fact that soon after the coronavirus outbreak emerged in China, "the rest of the world began to regard it as a threat to public health, while Trump has seen it as a public-relations problem."

"Trump’s primary method of dealing with public-relations problems is to exert the full force of the authoritarian cult of personality that surrounds him to deny that a problem even exists," Serwer writes. "This approach has paid political dividends for the Republican Party, in the form of judicial appointments, tax cuts for the wealthy, and a rapid erosion of the rule of law. But applied to the deadly pandemic now sweeping the planet, all it has done is exacerbate the inevitable public-health crisis, while leaving both the federal government and the entire swath of the country that hangs on his every word unprepared for the catastrophe now unfolding in the United States.'

Serwer argues that the outbreak's fast-moving spread and the resulting economic crisis didn't have to happen. Instead, they were the result of Trump's authoritarian instincts, "his obvious incompetence, and the propaganda apparatus that has shielded him from accountability by ensuring that the public is blinded to his role in the scale of this disaster."

He points out that other nations have also had their struggles in trying to contain the virus, but the U.S. is lacking excuses since it was aware of the seriousness of the outbreak, even though the administration initially tried to convey otherwise.

"The bizarre ritual of public-health officials fawning over the president during coronavirus briefings is not some trivial matter. In fact, it illustrates how democratic backsliding during the Trump administration has damaged the federal government’s ability to respond to emergencies and the credibility of its public statements on matters of life and death."

Read his full op-ed over at The Atlantic.