Machismo in a pandemic is not strength. Resisting mask-wearing in a pandemic is not safeguarding freedom. Lockdowns in a pandemic are not an abridgment of our rights of assembly or speech. Blue states aren’t more attractive to the coronavirus than red states. Scientists are not politicians. Politicians are not scientists. Everything is not politics. Lysol is a disinfectant for cleansing counters, not your lungs. Our choices were never masks OR jobs but masks FOR jobs — the more your employees and customers wear them, the more your business can stay open and flourish.
The big things Trump got wrong were twofold. The first was how to lead in a pandemic. The quality of our leadership in general is always a serious business, but in a pandemic, it becomes a matter of life or death. Leaders at every level — teachers, scientists, principals, presidents, school superintendents, hospital directors, C.E.O.s, mayors, governors, media, parents — are all being looked to for direction today more than ever because so many people feel disoriented and unmoored.
Donald Trump proved to be the worst kind of leader in a pandemic — a morally reckless leader.
“When it comes to living in the face of uncertainty, people tend to fall along a spectrum, reflecting their attitudes toward individual freedom versus responsibility and their disposition toward risk-taking,” explained Dov Seidman, the founder and chairman of the ethics and compliance company LRN and the How Institute for Society, which promotes values-based leadership.
You can see this spectrum starkly in how people contracted the virus and dealt with Covid-19, said Seidman. “First, there were those along the spectrum who were just unlucky and unfortunate — wrong place, wrong time when a tiny invisible pathogen was present.”
Second, he added, “there were frontline workers, heroes, who bravely ran toward the virus to help save others and were infected by it in the process. Third, there were individuals who were reckless and did not wear masks or stay six feet apart, harming themselves, their family, friends and co-workers, too.”