In high school, I was talking with a friend about Obama. My friend was critical of a decision Obama made (doesn’t matter which decision) and while I wasn’t well versed on the specific issue, I knew it was complex. I defended Obama on the basis that he probably had vastly more information than we did and I was fairly certain he didn’t come to the decision lightly.
This week, I saw Trump address reports about ‘reopening the economy’ in the face of COVID-19 and he called it the “Biggest Decision of his life” (2:33 in this video). I was really taken back by the clip and it felt like the most genuine clip of Trump I’d ever seen. Trump is many things, including an actor, of which he often seems to be using those talents. However, this clip felt like something different and reminded me of the appreciation I have for people who have to make tough decisions in the face of uncertainty.
A New York Times article on the topic goes further and quotes Trump saying,
“I’m going to have to make a decision, and I only hope to God that it’s the right decision,[…] but I would say without question it’s the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make.”
In my own life, I’ve had to make decisions that feel tough, but many of them have been very “local” challenges where I am the one who will be most impacted by the outcome.
I’ve made decisions that have impacted other people, but none so direct as taking away their livelihood or making a value judgment on their health and safety relative to other people. I have never even come close to making a decision that would directly lead to the loss of human life.
Whether Trump decides to promote the reopening of the economy or to promote extended quarantine will lead to death and misery either way.
- By reopening the economy without mass testing and a cure for COVID-19, it’s nearly certain that the virus will spread farther and wider, leading to increased casualty.
- By extending quarantine, more Americans will continue to lose their jobs which can have numerous unseen effects including increased rates of alcoholism and addiction, increased domestic abuse and violence, increased homelessness, and other negative externalities.
It’s a somber and incredibly difficult decision. Whichever path Trump chooses to promote, Americans will suffer, Americans will die, and critics will critique.
I don’t care if you love Trump or hate Trump, we should all be aligned in hoping Trump listens to his advisors and makes the ‘best’ decision possible, given all the facts at his disposal.