Things are getting real. We are at over 47,000 deaths worldwide and over 5,000 deaths in the U.S. alone. Our top experts are modeling between 100,000 and 240,000 American deaths by the end of this crisis. Those are massive numbers. We lost nearly 3,000 on 9/11; we suffered 7,000 (so far) U.S. military deaths in the "war on terror" and 58,000 after 20 years in Vietnam. Early hopes that COVID-19 could be overblown have more than dwindled. If anything, we are learning more every day about how China has understated the deaths they have seen – drastically understated, according to some reports.
Situations like the one we are facing help us all focus. As soon as you hear about someone you know getting sick – or see your family, friends or neighbors suffer – you start reprioritizing what really matters in life. Trivial things seem much more trivial when facing a life-or-death situation. The health and well-being of family, friends, neighbors and countrymen become the top priority.
Things like politics start falling into the trivial category for most Americans at times like this. This has been the case throughout our history. We band together when things get really bad.
Advertisement - story continues below
It's happening today. We see the highly liberal anti-Trump governors of California and New York complimenting President Donald Trump, and we see the president returning the favor. We see Tucker Carlson of Fox News send best wishes to rival Chris Cuomo of CNN upon learning he has the virus. Could you have pictured any of this a few weeks ago? It's good. It's how all of us should treat each other as fellow Americans in a time of crisis.
The number of Americans who see every issue in our country solely through a political lens – or even a Donald Trump lens – is shrinking. This is happening on both sides: The rose-colored-glasses, Trump-can-do-no-wrong crowd and the everything-in-America-is-Trump's-fault crowd are both waning. Regular people are disgusted by those who continue to over-politicize everything in our country. This is why Trump's approval numbers are up. The president's pandemic news conferences have become must-see TV in many households. The ratings show this. People tuning in are seeing a guy who – after some real messaging stumbles early on – is taking control and working every lever of government power to try to help the American people through this crisis. He's still eccentric for sure, but he's looking more presidential by the day. This has been a surprise for those who held a negative view of the president. It may yet change as the news changes, or if the president falters in the coming weeks, but for now, this new environment is causing people to rally around our leader as he seems to be doing his best in a tough situation.
It's hard not to feel sorry for those who can't stop being angry about politics at a time like this. When CNN or MSNBC tries to censor the president's news conferences, they look petty and out of it. There are small groups on each side who still prioritize the fight against Trump above all else, but most people are too busy thinking about their family and friends' health or watching in awe as the health care workers they know repeatedly work 20-hour days to care for patients while putting their own health at risk. This will have to go on for weeks, maybe even months. How will they keep doing it? Those are the types of questions we should all focus on. If you prioritize politics over these real concerns, it may be time to self-evaluate a little.
There is lots of good happening in our country right now. People are helping each other. Families and communities are coming together. Businesses are doing all they can for their customers or employees. Taking a short breath before over-politicizing the situation can be one more good thing to add to this list.
Advertisement - story continues below
None of this is to say we can't think about politics. It's an election year. Politics are important. But we vote in November. We are in the midst of this crisis. According to the doctors' best current forecasts, we are two weeks from the peak in America. At that peak, 2,500 people a day will be dying – maybe double that in the worst-case scenarios. Then we should start to see a big drop-off. By mid-June, we may be almost out of it. These things have changed before, and obviously, they could change again. But even if these forecasts are a few weeks off, we will have plenty of time to rip each other to pieces over politics. November is still more than six months away. Take a break. Take a breath. Your friends and neighbors will certainly appreciate it, and there are definitely more important things to think about right now.