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Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

On My Mind: What Goes Around

Tommy Tomlinson

I think one of the reasons President Trump’s most diehard followers admire him is that he refuses to live by the rules.

All you had to do is watch the debate the other night. All that interrupting, talking over Joe Biden, steamrolling the moderator … all those things that made a lot of us furious, made his core fans happy. Trump appears to do whatever he wants, offend whoever he wants, and as he famously said, he gets away with it. I think that’s a dream for a lot of people, to live a life where the rules that apply to the rest of society don’t apply to you.

Well, it turns out that the rules of science don’t care if you want to follow them or not. Our president and first lady both have COVID-19. This is a time to wish them a full recovery. But it is also time to talk about how, when faced with a threat he should not have trifled with, the president did nothing but trifle.

Just pretend, for a second, that from the moment the virus arrived in America that you followed no one’s advice but his. You would’ve assumed the virus would just disappear in a few weeks. You might’ve considered injecting yourself with disinfectant, or scanning yourself with ultraviolet light. You might’ve taken a chance on unproven drugs with dangerous side effects. You would’ve belittled others for months for taking basic safety precautions like wearing masks. In short, you would’ve done the opposite of what doctors, scientists and researchers were begging everyone to do.

None of this would have mattered if Trump were back in his old life as a failed casino owner or reality-TV blowhard. But he is, at least theoretically, the leader of our country. People believe him and believe in him. And he has let those people down more than anyone.

How many folks out there have lived these past few months the Trump way and paid for it with their health, or even their lives? How many tried to live the dream of breaking the rules until they slammed into something unbreakable?

I hope they all return to good health. I hope for a vaccine and a treatment that will put this awful phase deep into the past. But I also hope that we learn a lesson here. You don’t get to just wish away things you don’t like. You don’t get to live a life without consequences. And you don’t get to pretend that other people don’t matter.

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column normally runs every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

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