Editorial: Pandemic politics

The coronavirus has touched the lives of millions of Americans across the nation. With extra time on our hands in the midst of the pandemic, many Americans have been following political developments as we grapple with the virus’s widespread impact.

Although politics seem like a secondary concern as thousands lay on their deathbeds and hundreds of thousands seek treatment, we must remember that the actions of our local government officials and healthcare professionals, especially in the Greater Washington area, have directly benefited our health and safety.

Local officials have shown us the true American spirit by setting politics aside and putting their constituents’ interests first, while national leaders have fallen short and used this crisis to play politics.

Across the nation, state and local leaders have been instrumental in addressing their citizens’ health and economic concerns. The critical responses of states have oftentimes determined the fate of their population and their ability to cope with the virus’ fallout.

From coast to coast, these state and local leaders have taken responsibility into their own hands, largely to the great benefit of their constituents, to lead our country through these tough times. These actions have ranged from acquiring personal protective equipment to securing nursing homes to ordering testing kits. Those leaders have included Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, as well as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. Other
notable voices have been Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

The courage and leadership of the aforementioned bipartisan leaders have saved lives and drawn the applause of their constituents. In New York, for instance, Cuomo’s state-wide job approval rating as governor jumped from 44 percent to 87 percent, according to The Hill. Cuomo’s wide-
spread popularity is a direct result of his national presence in holding daily press briefings, and being a voice of reason in acquiring crucial testing kits for his state.

Even in the midst of anti-lock down protests at state capitols, many local leaders have continued to place the healthcare needs of their citizens above politics. Some county leaders have also rejected the calls of their state governors to reopen out of concern for their localities, including the heads of Maryland’s Montgomery, Prince George’s and Baltimore counties, who recently extended their stay-at-home orders as Hogan put the state on track to slowly reopen.

We must praise our local leaders for taking action that has not been met at the national level. Despite the U.S. Congress passing three coronavirus legislation packages, national figures have not risen to the occasion to put the people’s health and safety needs first.

Democrats have used this as an opportunity to accomplish irrelevant policy objectives on climate and infrastructure, while Republicans have blamed China, rather than the Executive Branch, for failing to contain the virus in the U.S. Such partisan games have no place in our current national
crisis, nor are they emblematic of our enduring spirit as a nation, one that must––and always has––come together during grave tragedies.

We owe our local leaders, who have recognized the need to unite and heal as a nation, a great debt of gratitude for their leadership and pursuit of the country over their party. Above
all, the coronavirus has reminded us that our local leaders oftentimes have a greater impact than our national leaders, especially now during a time of crisis.

This story was featured in The Lion’s Tale’s June 2020 magazine.