The most powerful country in the world. The entrenched catchphrase that ranks the United States first among nations, has undoubtedly never been so unsuitable. To such an extent that, in the face of this health crisis that is attacking American society at its fundamental bastions, many observers have found a new expression — the most powerless country in the world. Word play aside, let us recognize that the situation has turned into a catastrophe, unfortunately revealing what we already knew. Not only are Americans paying the price for a defective and extremely unequal system, but also for their president’s demagogic leadership.

The boomerang effect is terrifying for Donald Trump. On March 8, when criticized for his wait-and-see attitude regarding the pandemic, he responded, “Fake news.” Six weeks later, the epidemic’s epicenter is at the very heart of his empire, where it has already killed 40,000 people — a new record in the making. In the land of laissez-faire and unlimited financial prosperity, misfortune never comes alone. First, there are the deaths and the mass graves, with the knowledge that COVID-19 primarily targets the weakest, the poorest, all these millions of minorities who do not have health insurance. Then there is the societal horror which has resulted in a historic shock to employment. In one month, the crisis has left 22 million people unemployed. To appreciate the magnitude of this tragic event, consider that it represents eight people losing their job every second. And when the degree of social protection, like that for workers’ rights, is taken into account …

Meanwhile, Trump has been doing almost exactly the opposite of what he should be doing. Wanting to turn attention away from his calamitous handling of the crisis, he continues to fan the flames of discord, completely cutting off funding from the World Health Organization, blaming China, wishing to reopen the economy at any cost … eventually declaring a selective war against the governors of Democratic states. He thus hopes to clear himself of blame if lifting the lockdown derails. An electoral instinct both crude and pathetic. Just like the man himself.

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