Viral President Trump

This art piece, by Eric Fischl, accompanied an article entitled “The Entire Presidency is a Superspreading Event.” In this imaginary, President Donald Trump is composed of spindly structures reminiscent of filamentous bacteria. Central to this envisioning is the stylized coronavirus serving as the President’s nose. Such a depiction seems fitting to accompany an article analyzing both the President contracting SARS-COV-2 and the high transmission event in the White House’s garden on September 26th, 2020. However, similar to the prominent discourse comparing COVID-19 to a war, this imaginary of Trump as synonymous with the virus itself tends to elide many of the particularities of the complex crisis (and innumerable failures) which have accompanied the pandemic. This is not, of course, to mince words: the Trump administration is directly responsible for thousands of preventable deaths and an increasing number of long-term morbidity cases. However, President Trump is a failed leader amidst a failing system. The gutting of any national social safety net has occurred over the last half century of American politics to culminate in the crises of health, housing, and livelihood in the coronavirus pandemic. It seems more apt to envision the COVID-19 pandemic as not a rupture but an intensification of existing infrastructures of discrimination. Trump is less a virus than a symptom of American politics trending towards fascist conservatism—a long and violent history which will not be so easily eradicated.

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