Democratic National Convention host Eva Longoria introduced Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday night as the man who led New York "with clear direction and memorable powerpoints" during its coronavirus outbreak. Cuomo then spoke for a few minutes about how his state "climbed the impossible mountain, and now we are on the other side."
He did not mention that the path to the summit involved the deaths of more than 30,000 New Yorkers—an appallingly high death toll that was likely worsened by Cuomo's executive order forcing nursing homes to readmit elderly citizens who were sick with the virus. Far from being a beacon of sane leadership, Cuomo has continuously beclowned himself at all stages of the pandemic.
Perhaps it's unsurprising that Cuomo failed to address his myriad failures. But at the very least, he should not have minimized the horror of what occurred under his watch. It was something of a shock, then, when Cuomo referred to COVID-19 as "just a metaphor" for the country's more serious political divisions.
"We know that our problems go beyond the COVID virus," said Cuomo. "COVID is the symptom, not the illness. Our nation is in crisis, and in many ways, COVID is just a metaphor. A virus attacks when the body is weak and cannot defend itself. Over the past few years, America's body politic has been weakened. The divisions have been growing deeper. The anti-Semitism, the anti-Latino, the anti-immigrant fervor, the racism in Charlottesville…and in Minnesota, where the life was squeezed from Mr. [George] Floyd."
It's true that the country is facing plenty of other problems, including the government's ongoing mistreatment of immigrants, lack of accountability in law enforcement, racism, and anti-Semitism. But to say that the coronavirus is, like these other problems, merely some symptom of a larger problem is absurd and offensive. It minimizes the comparative horror of COVID-19—a once-in-a-century disaster that has already killed more than 170,000 Americans and will undoubtedly kill many more. The coronavirus is neither a metaphor, nor one issue among many, nor a symptom of some other disease. It is the disease and by far the most important issue facing the next president.
Our political divisions are frustrating but thankfully nowhere near as fatal.