US political interests come ahead of public health

By Shi Tian Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/3 22:53:40

People wear face masks as they walk down a street in Flushing area of Queens on Monday in New York City. Photo: AFP

As of Monday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US had reached 100, with the death toll rising to six. The epidemic situation in the US is worrisome.

But what are key US political figures up to in the face of this public health emergency? 

Many high-ranking politicians, who should have been devoted to tackling the epidemic, are now busy engaging in political struggles or holding campaign rallies.

For them, the epidemic does not seem to be a terrible crisis that threatens Americans' health, but a powerful weapon that can be used to fight partisan battles and gain political benefits.

President Donald Trump on Friday accused the Democratic Party of "politicizing" the virus, adding that the outbreak is the Democrats' "new hoax." And on Sunday, former vice president Joe Biden fought back, slamming the Trump administration's measures.

Similar scenes have been taking place in US political world amid the ongoing epidemic. The deadly virus has been "politicized" by many US politicians of different parties. When other countries are suffering severe outbreaks, they exploited the virus to attack other countries' systems. And within their own country, they are now regarding it a political card that their party can play.

Protecting the public's health and safety should be a top priority in fighting the epidemic, which requires a government to invest huge amounts of funds, time, and manpower in an efficient manner. However, in the US, ceaseless verbal battles between parties have distracted the government's focus. The best opportunity to curb the epidemic might have already been spoiled. Perhaps to these political elites, the lives of people should be ranked behind their political interests.

On Monday, Matt McCarthy, a New York City-based physician on the frontline of combatting the epidemic, told CNBC that there was a critical lack of COVID-19 testing kits and he even had to "plead" the public health department to test people. He called it a "national scandal."

But it's very likely that McCarthy's warning will remain unnoticed. On the same day, Trump was still vowing "it's very safe" to keep holding campaign rallies, without concern for the risk of large-scale gatherings amid the outbreak. He also told reporters that they could ask the same question to the Democrats "because they're having a lot of rallies."

Various examples, including government shutdowns and presidential impeachments, have exposed the defects of the US' two-party system - party struggles always lead to inefficient decision-making and ineffective policy implementation. 

The coronavirus outbreak is yet another test of the US political system, and it remains to be seen whether it will become another evidence to prove those flaws.

The urgent task for the two parties and all politicians in the US should be to reach a consensus and work together to fight the virus. After all, if the epidemic spins out of control in the country, all their efforts to win votes will be fruitless. 

China and the rest of the world will see how this most powerful democracy copes with the epidemic.

Posted in: OBSERVER

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