There is this idea on both the left and the right that Trump’s not so bad. Minimising or being in denial of what is happening in the US risks helping the rise of fascism. You can read the original post here, or the series here.
This one’s been brewing in the past week,
⚠️All COVID hospital data on CDC site is now gone!!! It is now managed by a private contractor who got a $10 million no-bid deal awarded in April. Now it’s all directly controlled by HHS political heads. #COVID19
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) July 16, 2020
The Trump Administration has mandated that hospitals sidestep the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and send critical information about COVID-19 hospitalizations and equipment to a different federal database.
From the start of the pandemic, the CDC has collected data on COVID-19 hospitalizations, availability of intensive care beds and personal protective equipment. But hospitals must now report that information to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC.
The change sparked concerns among infectious disease and health care experts that the administration was hobbling the ability of the nation’s public health agency to gather and analyze crucial data in the midst of a pandemic.
The new system was set up by TeleTracking, a private company based in Pennsylvania, which was awarded the $10 million contract in a non-competitive bid in April. In June, Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the Senate health committee wrote a letter to CDC Director Robert Redfield, asking why TeleTracking was awarded the contract on a non-competitive basis.
“It’s entirely unclear why the Trump Administration has asked states and hospitals to upend their reporting systems in the middle of a pandemic — in 48 hours nonetheless — without a single explanation as to why this new system is better or necessary,” Murray wrote in a statement to NPR. “The Trump Administration is going to have to give a full justification for this, because until they do, it’s hard to see how this step won’t further sideline public health experts and obscure the severity of this crisis.”
My prediction: this particular issue of covid data will settle down enough that people will adjust. Trump’s administration do the extreme, then dial it back a bit so people feel a sense of relief that it’s not that bad, but it is still really bad. This is classic building fascism process.
The confusion around what is going on is also a tool here. When applied as it has been for the past 4 years, people can’t keep up. The overwhelm of confusion and transgression of cultural and political norms on a daily basis prevents effective resistance. It’s hard to tell from this distance how much is intentional and how much is just stupid, but in case it’s not clear, the administration being incompetent serves their purpose.
The thing that fucks me off here, apart from the obvious, is that I remember the conversations in 2016 about how people’s reactions to Trump’s ‘unconventional’ ways of doing things were them just not liking approaches that weren’t middle class or conventional. But this shit right here was predictable. We have conventions for good reasons, including that humans need ways of doing things that are reliable, relatable, and functional.
For people that weren’t busy making out that Trump’s not so bad, it was easy to see that breaking down political conventions right at the start was going to serve an entirely different agenda.
Using private companies to manage public health data is neoliberal. Doing that suddenly in the middle of a pandemic, in a highly dysfunctional and disturbing way, and that removes public agency, is neoliberalism on steroids. Along with it also serving the fascist agenda this means it isn’t comparable with any of the alternatives. But Trump’s not so bad, right?
Numbers don’t lie, and this administration is desperately trying to hide the size of its failure to address this pandemic. We've just surpassed 3.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases. The American public deserves transparency. https://t.co/rUYoZWhYP2
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) July 18, 2020