30 April 2020 Posted By : Thomas L. Friedman

Column: We need herd immunity from President Trump and the coronavirus

With each passing day it becomes more obvious how unlucky we are that one of the worst crises in American history coincides with Donald Trump’s presidency. To get out of this crisis with the least loss of life and least damage to our economy, we need a president who can steer a science-based, nonpartisan debate through the hellish ethical, economic and environmental trade-offs we have to make.

We need a president who is a cross between FDR, Justice Brandeis and Jonas Salk. We got a president who is a cross between Dr. Phil, Dr. Strangelove and Dr. Seuss.

Sure, Trump isn’t the only one sowing division in our society, but as president he has a megaphone like no one else, so when he spews his politics of division, and suggests disinfectants as cures, he is not only eroding our society’s physical immunity to the coronavirus but also eroding what futurist Marina Gorbis calls our “cognitive immunity” — our ability to filter out science from quackery and facts from fabrications.

As a result, the Trump daily briefing has itself become a public health hazard.

If we don’t have a president who can harmonize our need to protect ourselves from the coronavirus and our need to get back to work — as well as harmonize our need to protect the planet’s ecosystems and our need for economic growth — we are doomed.

Because this virus was actually triggered by our polarization from the natural world. And it will destroy us — physically and economically — if we stay locked in a polarized, binary argument about lives versus livelihoods.

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