We have seen these 15 signs of authoritarianism

Ann McFeatters

TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE — Let’s consider Mike Pence.

Steadfast. Loyal. Vice president extraordinaire — if you are of Donald Trump’s political persuasion, whatever that is. And head of the federal coronavirus task force.

Oops.

We’re to believe what Pence says. Not the facts.

Repeatedly, Pence has said of this historic pandemic what the facts simply do not support: The news is good. Trump has flattened the curve.

Don’t worry that your relatives are dying or on a life-debilitating ventilator, the economy is tanking, states are going back into lockdown, children are not safe at school, hospitals in too many cities are over capacity — good luck if you have an appendectomy or heart attack — deaths are spiraling, no other country has our appalling caseload and the government has decided to privatize COVID-19 statistics.

Hide the real toll of the virus just before an election? Perish the thought. Or, for too many, just perish.

We have never before had a president and vice president who, out of zeal to be reelected, kill off the voters. Go figure.

If you have been stuck in your house out of fear for your life from the virus or desperately are trying to make ends meet as a front-line/essential worker, you may not know that Trump has decided that no longer will the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keep the official statistics on what is happening with the novel coronavirus. Those numbers are being privatized and sent to the White House. Politicized.

Honestly, folks, who could make this stuff up?

(Elections have consequences.)

Even as cases of the coronavirus spiked to impossible heights (even as most other countries’ levels were falling) and Florida alone has had more coronavirus cases than the entire European Union, Pence has smiled and smiled and assured Americans all is well. And, then, finally, he started wearing a mask.

And, as the CDC were reporting 3.4 million Americans testing positive for the virus and 137,000 people having died (and thousands having lost their health forever), Pence insisted that Americans should no longer listen to the public health agency once considered the best in the world.

Weighing in on the emotionally fraught decision on whether local school districts should open this fall, Pence said: “We don’t want CDC guidance to be a reason why people don’t open their schools.” Really? Ignore the medical experts? The CDC wants schools to be careful Very careful. What does Pence want? His boss’s approval?

We know from Trump’s niece Mary that his family was outrageously dysfunctional. Her book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Produced the World’s Most Dangerous Man” asserts that a sociopath (Trump’s father) produced an arrogant narcissist (Trump) who grew up to destroy lives. What is Pence’s excuse?

We know Pence is a bigot — most notably against gays and lesbians, almost ruining Indiana’s economy when he was governor for his homophobic efforts. He is sycophantic (he has never disputed his boss in public and may soon be the definition of “groveling” in dictionaries). And, apparently, he is not very bright. (Seriously, can he not read a graph that shows COVID-19 cases on the upswing?)

Perhaps he thinks he will be president if Trump isn’t.

An astute reporter named Rick Wilson wrote a book: “Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever.” So far, so true. Chiefs of staff. Cabinet members. Personal lawyers. FBI directors. An attorney general. Generals. Et cetera. Watch out for Pence’s political career.

Facts — yes, facts — Pence did not tell us: We haven’t hit the worst of the pandemic. Thousands more will die. The virus will continue to kill and maim for another year at the least. The economy is in desperate trouble — 50 million Americans have filed for unemployment.

(Trump daughter Ivanka — an official White House senior counselor — suggests to the unemployed that they “find something new.” Well, in a pandemic/depression, sure. Prostitution? Drug dealing? Vice president of a defunct tech company?)

Emails from you, dear readers, suggest that you are split. Half of you think Trump is a genius. Half of you think he is our worst nightmare.

Think carefully, fellow citizens, about how you are going to weigh in on what Trump and Pence are doing. How you want the future of this great country to play out.

Everyone, stay safe out there. The veep certainly will. But what does he think will happen next?

Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at amcfeattersnationalpress.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency. © 2020 Tribune Content Agency.

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(15) comments

Holmes -- the real one

Pence is at least as immoral as Trump -- he very willingly sold whatever integrity he might possibly have had without looking back. And for what?

He was immediately recognized among the Republicans and by Trump as readily corruptible and absolutely hypocritically "pious" -- the perfect foil for Trump.

There is nobody who has done more to advance the cause of atheism in America than Pence

Pitbull

This must be your idea of a cogent argument. OK, you dont like Pence. Atheism? C'mon, that's whacked.

hermit thrush

you have a good point about that. trump has also done quite a lot to discredit religion. the paragon of the religious right has been ripping children out of the arms of their parents at the border and teargassing peaceful protesters to clear the way for a photo op at a church.

Pitbull

Since you mentioned "ripping children out of" let's consider the womb. This is the ultimate offense to a growing human being.

Pitbull

Next, let's consider the truth of the fact that that church, like so many, had been burned and desecrated by your "peaceful" protestors. Not much reaction or indignation by you regarding that, is there. There haven't been many peaceful protestors in 2020, let's face it. I wonder how long you could stand some of the abuse the cops are forced to receive.

hermit thrush

one the one hand:

fetuses 👏 aren't 👏 people 👏

on the other hand:

if you are saying that what trump is doing at the border is equivalent to what you believe abortion to be, then that is an amazing self-own.

hermit thrush

people shouldn't destroy property. but that is a wholly separate point. when trump had the protesters at lafayette square teargassed, no one was doing anything wrong. it was all peaceful. my god, a priest at the church even got gassed. that is the "truth of the fact" and you, as a self-professed christian, cannot come to terms with it. the vast majority of protests in the wake of the floyd murder have been peaceful.

hermit thrush

good column.

Pitbull

Horrible column written by a Trump hater. Pence is not intelligent? Pence is a bigot? This kind of nonsense passes for thoughtful discourse on the left, all while they pretend to be concerned, kind, and interested in a solution.

hermit thrush

pence's homophobia is legendary. when he was in congress he was widely known as one of its stupidest members. i'm sorry the facts trigger you. part of being "thoughtful" is calling a spade a spade.

Pitbull

You need to tighten up the control of your lips and typing fingers. Whose facts, hermie?

hermit thrush

reality's facts. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/exkd5w/everything-you-need-to-know-about-mike-pences-homophobia

Pitbull

Love your buzzword, homophobia. You quote "Vice", an alternative voice of Canadian punk rockers and youth. If you're not on board with the LGBTQIA+++++ movement you are stupid, eh?

hermit thrush

if you are just learning the word "homophobia" then lord help you.

if there are any errors in the vice piece then please point them out. otherwise what you write comes across as a desperate attempt to wave away inconvenient facts.

hermit thrush

also -- not necessarily stupid, just bigoted.

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