Thursday, June 04, 2020

Public health trumps Trump

We're living a strange moment when any elected official simply doing their job seems a kind of hero. It should not be that way, but it is.

With this in mind, we can say "Well done!" to North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.

Before there was COVID, back when 1000s of boisterous Republicans looked like an economic boon to the city of Charlotte (the state's largest city), the national Republican convention was to take place there in late August. Like pretty much all large cities, Charlotte is run by politicians who tend to be Democrats. But the city was pleased at the prospect. After the coronavirus shut down, the convention seemed a life saver.

Many businesses, particularly in the hard-hit hospitality industry, see the convention as a lifeline. At one point officials expected it to draw 50,000 people to Charlotte.

The state health authorities pointed out that the coronavirus has made the gathering dangerous to both assembled participants and to the North Carolinians who would be working it. They suggested modifications; they asked the Republicans to propose rules for masks, social distancing, and other safety precautions.

Not good enough for Donald Trump. He demanded that he should be allowed to deliver his acceptance speech in the form of one of his packed, raucous stadium rallies. Little Orange Caesar must play on his unmodified stage.

Governor Cooper stuck up for the public health and science. He refused to bow to bluster. He insisted the convention observe safety precautions. Trump tantrumed and tweeted; he wanted his spectacle. At length Republicans have pulled back:

Republicans said Tuesday night that they were moving President Trump’s convention speech out of Charlotte, N.C., and to another city, after coming to a stalemate with Democratic officials in the state about safety and crowd size restrictions because of the coronavirus.

Michael Ahrens, communications director of the Republican National Committee, said that “the celebration of the president’s acceptance of the Republican nomination will be held in another city.” But Republican officials also said they could still hold other convention business in Charlotte, so as not to break a formal contract they signed with the city more than two years ago.

It shouldn't require even a small measure of heroism to ask sacrifices for the common good. But in these degraded times, doing the right thing can become an arduous act of political audacity. Every little bit helps.

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