Germany’s kids are going back to school safely, following science-based guidelines. How can they do this so soon, you ask? With tests on the very first day of school. If you can’t believe their teachers would give a test on the first day, relax. It’s not that kind of test.
(Lea) Hammermeister, a 17-year-old high school junior, entered the tent erected in the schoolyard along with some classmates — all standing six feet apart — and picked up a test kit. She inserted the swab deep into her throat, gagging slightly as instructed, then closed and labeled the sample before returning to class.
It took less than three minutes. The results landed in her inbox overnight. A positive test would require staying home for two weeks. Ms. Hammermeister tested negative. She now wears a green sticker that allows her to move around the school without a mask — until the next test four days later.
And that, my fellow Americans, is what we absolutely do not have in our country. What we have instead is what Donald Trump gave us. What he did to us, more accurately. He completely wasted months—while we social distanced, while businesses shut down and tens of millions lost their jobs, while we stayed at home and, in some cases, died alone. Months during which we should have been doing what Germany did: Developing, manufacturing, and distributing enough tests to get our kids back into the classrooms where they belong, where they can learn what they need in order to thrive for the rest of their lives.
Instead, all the Orange Julius Caesar gave us was an unending supply of rage tweets and a completely nonfunctional, corrupt federal response to the worst virus outbreak in a century. Make America great again? How about just making us functional again.
A Saturday Night Live skit aired a couple of weeks after Trump’s term began, where Alec Baldwin, as Trump, called German Chancellor Angela Merkel (played by the great Kate McKinnon). She picks up the phone excitedly, and blurts out: “Hello? Is this mein sweet Barack? Barack Obama, I miss you!” Don’t we all, sister.
While the real Merkel’s country goes back to school—still maintaining social distancing measures in the classroom in addition to performing the aforementioned regular tests—Donald Trump’s America is nowhere near that point. We’ll be lucky if our kids go back to school this fall, and, more significantly, we’ll be lucky if the virus doesn’t end up killing hundreds of thousands of Americans.
History will remember whose fault that is. The more urgent question is whether enough voters will remember, come November. Please do what you can to make sure they do.
Ian Reifowitz is the author of The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh’s Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump