Donald Trump and his Republican counterparts have shown a dangerous habit of thinking when it comes to finding solutions to the most pressing and life-threatening problems facing Americans and the nation at large.
What is this habit of thinking? You tend to think strong and narrow when it comes to policy making, especially the economy.
The result of this type of impoverished and deceptive thinking process is that Americans are faced with wrong choices, none of which are healthy or appealing, and obscure other viable and more attractive and humane options.
Take, for example, Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana, who so narrowly assessed the options for "opening up the economy" or protecting the health of Americans that the country was essentially "choosing between cancer and heart attack."
"Really?" Wasn't there a third option? It had to be either / or and not both / and? That said, we couldn't imagine a way to protect the health of Americans AND reopen the economy if we did it safely?
Do you see what I am talking about?
It would serve all of us as voters to adjust to this tendency by Trump and the Republicans to make these wrong decisions so that we can effectively evaluate their policies in relation to our interests and see through their wrong decisions and discover around them more optimal solutions for more optimal solutions our urgent needs.
Trump made this disarming and deadly habit of thinking clear in last Thursday's debate.
During last Thursday's presidential debate, NBC journalist Kristen Welker asked Trump:
“President Trump, colored people are much more likely to live near oil refineries and chemical plants. There are families in Texas who fear that the plants around them will make them sick. Why should these families give you four more years in office? "
"The families we are talking about are busy and making a lot of money – more money than ever before," he said.
In other words, for Trump, it's your money or your life. Either … or. There does not seem to be a way for Trump to envision a scenario in which these Americans enjoy both fiscal well-being and physical health.
In the world's impoverished imaginations of Trump, we'll have loads of money, but no clean water to drink, no fresh air to breathe, and poor health. I kind of remember a famous episode of Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone with Burgess Meredith in which the book-loving character Meredith plays is the last man to stand at the end of the world. He is surrounded and displaced by books as he moves in a fit of elation over his predicament, his glasses off his face only to see them fall and break. He has all the books but not the bare essentials to read, just as Trump's vision leads to a world in which we may have money, but no access to the resources to live on.
Recognizing this thought habit can help us understand the political twilight zone that Trump and the Republicans are creating for Americans.
Their thinking challenges us to accept a vision of "economic success" that will bring our own death.
Trump, for example, took back legislation to protect our waters, which enables pollution and threatens our supplies of clean water, and told us it was good for the economy.
But let's remember from our ECON 101 class what an economy is about to produce and distribute goods and services most efficiently in order to meet the needs of the people living in the economic system.
In other words, the whole point of an economy is to support life.
Trump doesn't seem to understand this basic economic principle. Indeed, he thinks of winners and losers, successful people and fools. For him, the economy is a game that separates these two and is not intended to serve and support all lives.
So Trump cannot even understand what Joe Biden is saying when talking about both opening the economy safely and carefully. For Trump, this means shutting the economy down completely or simply opening it wide without restrictive measures so that death is inevitable, the victim of a successful economy.
He cannot understand how to approach the pandemic as part of a successful economic policy because he does not see human health, the support of life, as an economic goal.
Trey Hollingsworth, Indiana Republican representative, best summed up this mindset when he argued that we must choose between "losing American lives" and "losing our way of life as Americans." He summed it up when he said:
"Both decisions will cause individual harm, whether it is dramatic economic damage or loss of life. But it is always the position of the American government to say that our choice is between losing our way of life as Americans and the loss of American lives must always choose the latter. "
Trump and his Republican allies miss the truth that is evident in the language: a way of life is actually supposed to support life, not lead to death. That is why we call it a "way of life" and not a "way of life".
Of course, think of Dr. Mehmet Oz, who campaigned to send all American children back to school, calculated that "it could cost us only two to three percent of all mortality".
Just a few dead children. No problem. Either some children are dying or we cannot go back to school.
Do you like this choice?
If not, you can choose this election season to remove that way of thinking from office, make politics, and install a new way of thinking in the halls of power.
Tim Libretti is a professor of American literature and culture at a state university in Chicago. A longtime progressive voice, he has published numerous academic and journalistic articles on culture, class, race, gender, and politics, for which he has received awards from the Working Class Studies Association, the International Labor Communications Association, and the National Federation of Press Women and the Illinois Woman & # 39; s Press Association.