America is just over a week into the White House’s “Slow the Spread” coronavirus initiative, which recommends citizens practice social distancing and refrain as much as possible from leaving their homes. But Donald Trump has spent the past few days whining about the struggling stock market and signaling a return to business as usual, despite warnings from his own medical experts that an additional several weeks are necessary to contain the still-growing pandemic. Sending the country back into full-time work mode would undermine efforts to curb the outbreak and will almost certainly lead to more Americans dying—one worst-case model found that 2.2 million people could die if the outbreak is allowed to spread unmitigated. Right-wing media outlets know this, but they’re still backing the White House’s ill-advised pivot in near unison.
In fact, the death cult speed-run to save the stock market already has its first round of volunteers. On Monday night, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick kicked things off by telling Tucker Carlson that he is ready “to take a chance on [my] survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves,” i.e. one in which business is booming. Carlson, who commended Patrick’s comments as a necessary “conversation,” discussed the proposal on Tuesday night with his colleague Brit Hume, who concluded that it is “an entirely reasonable viewpoint.” (Incidentally, Fox has gone from following Trump’s lead in downplaying the pandemic—“yet another attempt to impeach the president,” Fox Business host Trish Regan claimed before being suspended from air—to cosigning Trump’s dire warnings that, as host Steve Hilton put it Sunday, “we are hurtling towards” making “the cure…worse than the disease,” a line the White House quickly adopted.)
Patrick isn’t the only Republican ready to risk it all for the Dow. In no uncertain terms, conservative pundit Glenn Beck voiced a similar eagerness on Wednesday following Trump’s Fox News town hall, during which the president pitched April 12 as a date for life to return more or less to normal. “I’m in the danger zone. I’m right at the edge, I’m 56,” the BlazeTV founder said from his home studio. “I would rather have my children stay home and all of us who are over 50 go in and keep this economy going and working, even if we all get sick, I’d rather die than kill the country. Cause it’s not the economy that’s dying, it’s the country.” This is quite a turnaround from Beck’s comments in 2009 when he criticized the Affordable Care Act for allegedly barring senior citizens from lifesaving care. “We care about the elderly…. We value life in this country,” he said at the time. “And when you start devaluing life, then you’re in trouble.”
Perhaps the most pointed addition to the I volunteer as tribute canon came via right-wing radio host and Federalist contributor Jesse Kelly, who shared this tweet Tuesday morning: “If given the choice between dying and plunging the country I love into a Great Depression, I’d happily die.”
It’s a heroic offer, surely, but it’s one that may become all too real as the pandemic barrels on. On Wednesday, the United States had reported more than 61,000 coronavirus patients and 849 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. And with Trump’s plan to jump the gun on preventive measures, the chances of America outpacing the rest of the world seem increasingly likely. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who noted Tuesday that cases in New York are “doubling about every three days” and that “the curve is actually increasing” despite a days-long nearly citywide shutdown, offered a warning to other states: “New York is the canary in the coal mine,” he said. “What happens to New York is going to wind up happening to California and Washington State and Illinois—it’s just a matter of time.” According to Politico, morgues in New York City are already approaching capacity.