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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Elliot Benjamin is a philosopher, mathematician, musician, counselor, writer, with Ph.Ds in mathematics and psychology and the author of over 230 published articles in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, pure mathematics, mathematics education, spirituality & the awareness of cult dangers, art & mental disturbance, and progressive politics. He has also written a number of self-published books, such as: The Creative Artist, Mental Disturbance, and Mental Health. See also: www.benjamin-philosopher.com.
The Deadly Duo
Part 1: Trump and the Coronavirus
From my perspective, the United States has been led by a narcissistic, egocentric, paranoid, deceitful, racist, ignorant individual.
I have repeatedly conveyed in my Integral World essays the past few years my belief that President Trump has continuously been putting the United States as well as the rest of the world in serious danger . But what I focused upon specifically was the destruction of the environment and nuclear annihilation . From my perspective, the United States has been led by a narcissistic, egocentric, paranoid, deceitful, racist, ignorant individual without any sense of human compassion. I had no faith in the stock market under Trump's leadership, basically because I believed that we were governed by an irrational individual who prioritized his own self-interest more than anything else in the world, and consequently I decided to put my retirement savings in a conservative low interest-bearing account. But I had absolutely no idea that we would soon be living under the overwhelming suffocating fear that now pervades virtually the entire world, and that we in the United States have President Trump in charge of getting us through this horrible existential crisis.
There has been a lot of talk about how Trump was not prepared for the Coronavirus crisis, due to his shutting down crucial disease research activities, not taking the advice of medical experts, minimizing the expected growth of the pandemic, and rejecting the offer of World Health Organization coronavirus tests . But for me, by far the worst action that Trump was giving serious consideration to enacting was to “celebrate” people going back to work and largely ending social distancing prematurely, with his goal of stimulating massive turnouts in churches all over the country for Easter Sunday , . The responses from health experts to this plan made it clear that this would have been nothing less than a death sentence for a significant number of people in America, in particular for elderly people and people who are not in good health .
However, thankfully, Trump was under mounting pressure to extend his Easter goal for the economy to be back and running, by numerous public officials who pushed back against his statement as well as by a significant level of dissatisfaction in the public in regard to how he has handled the pandemic crisis; consequently Trump's has extended his Easter timeline to the end of April .
Other countries have been somberly facing the severity of the Coronavirus with determined resolution through enforced national social distancing and “lockdown,” meaning people are legally required to stay home except for buying necessities such as food, or for emergency medical needs, even if enacted later than should have been . I am certainly very relieved that Trump decided to listen to his medical experts amidst the growing public unrest and fears about his Easter goal of promoting people going back to work and attending church in large numbers . But I am still very concerned that when it comes down to it, Trump will put politics and economics over human life, and I am still afraid that far too many people in the United States could get persuaded and manipulated into doing what Trump tells them to do . Trump is now promoting his success as measured by hopefully “only” between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans dead, as opposed to 2 million, whereas the reality is that many Americans have died and many more will die because of Trump's negligence in dealing with the pandemic to begin with , . And I believe that Trump's motivation in foregoing his Easter Sunday church and back-to-work brainstorm is not a function of any kind of human compasssion, but rather is solely a manifestation that his aides convinced him that his reelection would be seriously jeopardized if he is not perceived as showing concern about how many Americans die .
As a result of the public panic over the coronavirus, Trump's approval ratings have been recently fluctuating rapidly and wildly, as can be seen from the fact that a week ago his approval ratings increased to its highest point in his whole presidency, whereas a few days later they reversed course , . There is the prediction from experts that anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of people will die in the United States alone , , , , , and I am afraid of how much worse Trump could make this. This is what motivated the title of this essay for me—“The deadly duo: Trump and the coronavirus”. Either one alone is dangerous, but if it were “only” Trump then we could (hopefully) vote him out of office in 7 months. If it were “just” the coronavirus and we had compassionate intelligent leadership for the United States, such as I believe Joe Biden would offer , then the disastrous consequences of the pandemic could at least be held in check as much as possible, and I think would likely be under control by the November, 2020 election, through nationally enforced social distancing and lockdown, as other countries are doing . But what we have in the United States is the deadly duo, and this is what scares me the most and makes me feel so powerless and unable to do anything to change the deadly course of events that the United States has already started to experience , , .
Sure I can hope that Trump listens to the medical experts and that public opinion continues to put a damper on his willingness to put politics and economics over human life. And I can hope that within a few months the deadly course of the virus starts to taper off and that the United States and the world eventually gain control of the virus. But in the meantime it is good for my mental health to continue to be actively involved politically with the goal of beating Trump in the November presidential election. So what can I do with this goal in mind?
Well recently I participated in an online Indivisible meeting , as Indivisible where I live in Maine has recently shifted their meetings to this format, just as Indivisible and essentially all political organizations have done in all places. Toward the end of the meeting, when everyone was asked to give their closing thoughts or future agenda items that they had, I hesitatingly asked the group what they thought about Bernie Sanders dropping out of the race, given that Joe Biden is the presumable Democratic nominee, as I said that I was concerned that Sanders' continued candidacy and severe criticisms of Biden could be helping Trump to get reelected . And I was pleasantly surprised that my concerns were taken quite seriously, as some people voiced their agreement and the topic was put on the agenda to be discussed more at length at the following week's meeting. I knew that Indivisible as a whole did not like Joe Biden, and that their favorite candidates had been first Elizabeth Warren and then Bernie Sanders. So I didn't expect a very receptive response to my suggestion that perhaps Bernie Sanders should drop out of the race, and some people voiced their opinion that Sanders wanted to influence Biden to make Biden's platform more progressive, but I could see that I stirred a few people to seriously think about this. And this motivated me to take things further and suggest to the Indivisible Northeast coordinator that perhaps it is time for Indivisible National to consider again the question of endorsing a Democratic presidential candidate, and that I believed it should be Joe Biden to be consistent with the Indivisible mission of defeating Trump in November , .
Well the Indivisible Northeast coordinator responded initially as I expected her to, conveying to me how Indivisible had given their highest scorecard ratings to Elizabeth Warren, followed by Bernie Sanders, and that Joe Biden received low ratings. She did not think Indivisible National was interested in doing another endorsement survey, as they had done one a few months ago and the response clearly indicated that Indivisible members generally did not favor a presidential endorsement. She went on to say that perhaps things could be reevaluated if Biden were to make his platform more progressive, which I think we both knew would never happen to anywhere near the extent it would take for Indivisible to have a change of heart towards Biden. Finally she said that once the Democratic nominee was chosen, that Indivisible would follow through with their Indivisible “pledge”  to completely support whoever the Democratic candidate was, to work toward the goal of beating Trump in November.
I wasn't surprised by the response I received, but I pursued the communication and asked the Northeast coordinator if she would be open to conveying to Indivisible National the inclination of Indivisible Bangor if I were to bring this up at next week's meeting and Indivisible Bangor strongly advocated for a re-appraisal of the endorsement issue. And I was pleased to receive a much more agreeable response from the Northeast coordinator, as she said yes she would be open to bringing this up to Indivisible National if Indivisible Bangor advocated for another endorsement appraisal. However, as I thought about it some more, I realized that if it were to somehow happen that Indivisible National actually endorsed Biden, this would likely have the effect of alienating Sanders' supporters from Biden even more than they already are. And if Indivisible National endorsed Sanders, then it would just be vice versa. So I came to the conclusion that working for an Indivisible endorsement of Biden at this time is not the way to go, not if I maintain my mission of beating Trump in November, as getting Sanders' supporters to vote for Biden is an important piece of this process.
At the next Indivisible Bangor meeting my Biden/Sanders issue came up again for discussion, and some of the response was similar to that of the week before, in regard to the belief that Sanders was staying in the race to have an effect on making Biden's platform more progressive, as well as an acknowledgment of my concern about the danger of Sanders weakening Biden and consequently helping Trump to get reelected. There was also a concern expressed that people may see a false equivalence between Biden and Trump, and it was conveyed that Sanders debating Biden again would likely have no effect on either the primaries or the general election.
However, what had the most effect on me from this Indivisible meeting was that I learned that Biden has been accused of sexually assaulting one of his former campaign staffers, in an incident that purportedly occurred in 1993 . I knew as soon as I heard this that it could be the magic bullet that Trump needed to get reelected if it were to go mainstream and mushroom (which at this time it has not done). His accuser is a Bernie supporter, and she changed her story from last year, which at the time involved inappropriate touching on the shoulders and neck, but nothing about sexual harassment .
I don't know what the truth is, but I do know that if Biden is somehow weakened sufficiently by this allegation to enable Bernie Sanders to become the Democratic nominee, then once again I must say that I believe Trump will easily get reelected, for the reasons I have previously conveyed . And if Biden retains his dominant position and obtains the nomination, which is what I believe is most likely to happen, I think there is every reason to be concerned that if this allegation goes mainstream and mushrooms then the difference this makes could be just enough to give Trump the edge to get reelected. Thus if I maintain my strong value of beating Trump in November no matter what it takes , then I must still go with Biden, even if the allegation against him is true. For Trump is still incomparably worse and infinitely more dangerous than Biden in my opinion, and I still believe that Biden is the only chance we have to get rid of Trump in November.
But in all fairness to Biden, this allegation is coming from a woman who is a Sanders supporter who did not claim that Biden had committed sexually inappropriate conduct against her last year, she is the only woman who has claimed that Biden committed sexually inappropriate conduct, and there were no witnesses to her claim. Thus weighing all the evidence, at this point I choose to believe that Biden is innocent of these allegations. But either way I still maintain that Biden is our only hope in November to get rid of at least the Trump half of the deadly duo. And working to get rid of the Trump half of the deadly duo is still something that for me is exceedingly important to do whatever I am able to with this goal in mind.
Notes and References
1) See my various Trump essays on the Integral World website at www.integralworld.net
2) See Dan Diamond and Nahal Toosi (2020), "Trump Team Failed to Follow NSC's Pandemic Playbook", www.politico.com; Mark Sumner (2020), "The Bucks, the Deaths, the Misery, the Chaos, Are 100% on Donald Trump", www.dailykos.com; Wlliam Wan, Reed Albergotti, and Joel Achenback (2020), "Trump Wants “The Country Opened,” But Easing Coronavirus Restrictions Now Would Be disastrous, Experts Say", www.washingtonpost.com; Jessica McDonald (2020), "Biden, Trump Wrong About WHO Coronavirus Tests", www.factcheck.org; and Hunter (2020), "Dr. Anthony Fauci Becomes the Newest Target as Conservatives Defend Trump's COVID-19 Incompetence", www.dailykos.com
3) See Kevin Liptak, Maegan Vazquez, Nick Valencia, and Jim Acosta (2020), "Trump Says He Wants the Country “Opened Up and Just Raring To Go by Easter,” Despite Health Experts' Warning", www.cnn.com and Laura Clawson (2020), "Trump Push to Reopen Busineeses Will Kill A Lot of People: and That Will Be Bad For the Economy, Too", www.dailykos.com
4) See Carolyn Fiddler (2020), "New Daily Kos/Civiqs Poll: Majority of Americans Disapprove of Trump's Handling of Coronavirus", www.dailykos.com; Tamara Keith, Ranco Ordonez, Ayesha Rascoe, and Roberta Rampton (2020), "How 15 Days Became 45: Trump Extends guidelines to Slow Coronavirus", www.wbez.org/; Doina Chiacu and Dan Whitcomb (2020, "Trump Backs Off Plan to Reopen Businesses by Mid-April Amid Coronavirus Warnings", www.reuters.com; and Jonathan Swan (2020), "Advisers Steer Trump to Drop Back-To-Work Deadline", www.axios.com
5) See Juliana Kaplan, Lauren Frias, and Morgan McFall-Johnsen (2020), "A Third of the Global Population Is On Coronavirus Lockdown: Here's Our constantly Updated List of Countries and Restrictions", www.businessinsider.nl
6) See Ian Millhiser (2020), "Poll: American Want a National Lockdown", www.vox.com; modesttraveller (2020), "We're #1! We Have Now Topped EVERY Country in the World in Covid-19 Cases, Thanks to Trump", www.dailykos.com; phoenixdreamz (2020), "Trump's Pandemic Approval Plummets & Fox News Poll Has Biden Beating Him Handily", www.dailykos.com; and Kos (2020, "This Fox News Poll Makes Donald Trump So Sad, Particularly the Elizabeth Warren Part", www.dailykos.com
7) See Laura Clawson (2020), "Trump Lied and Attacked Healthcare Workers in Sunday Briefing, But Got the Headlines He Wanted", www.dailykos.com; Laura Clawson (2020), "“Moving the Goalposts” Doesn't Begin To Describe What Trump Is Doing On Corona Virus Deaths", www.dailykos.com; Kos (2020), "Trump Doesn't Care About the Dead. He Only Cares If They Selfishly Cost Him His Reelection", www.dailykos.com; and dhonig (2020), "It's Wporse Than You Think", www.dailykos.com
8) See Yelena Dzhanova (2020), "Trump Approval Rating Rises As He Responds To the Cornavirus Outbreak", www.cnbc.com; and Chris Cillizza (2020), "President Trump Is As Popular As He's Ever Been Right Now", www.cnn.com
9) See Joseph Dillard (2020), "Toward an Integral Response to Coronavirus", www.integralworld,net
10) See my 2019 Integral World essay "An “Integrative” Democratic Candidate Is Needed To Beat Trump", www.integralworld.net; and my 2020 Integral World essays "Sanders vs. Biden et al. from an Integrative Beating Trump Perspective", www.integralworld.net and "Putting My Body Where My Mouth Is and Going Full Circle in My Integrative Beating Trump Perspective", www.integralworld.net
11) See the Indivisible website at www.indivisible.org, and my Integral World Trump essays .
12) See Andy Schmookler (2020), "Something's Wrong With Bernie Sanders", www.dailykos.com
13) See Democracy Now! (2020), "“It Shattered My life”: Former Joe Biden Staffer Tara Reade Says He Sexually Assaulted Her In 1993", www.democracynow.org; Anna North (2020), "A Sexual Assault Allegation Against Joe Biden Has Ignited a Firestorm of Controversy", www.vox.com; Kamille Houston (2020), "Penn Dems and Penn For Bernie Urge Investigation Into Biden Sexual Assault Allegation", www.thedp.com; and Branko Marcetic (2020), "For Top Democrats, Joe Biden Is No Al Franken", www.jacobinmag.com.