Richard S. Bogartz: A difference in leadership

By RICHARD S. BOGARTZ

Published: 07-05-2024 7:36 PM

 

Here’s my biased contrast of leadership by Joe Biden and Donald Trump. ChatGPT 4.o gathered some of the information.

Biden’s 36 senatorial years and eight years as vice president support his understanding of legislation and foreign policy. His infrastructure bill exemplifies his skill at bipartisan cooperation.

Biden’s social justice and equality commitments exemplify policies targeting reducing racial disparities, supporting marginalized communities, expanding access to health care, increasing the minimum wage, and addressing systemic racism.

Biden has led on environmental issues by emphasizing climate change, rejoining the Paris Agreement, reducing carbon emissions, renewable energy investments, and infrastructure improvements, while promoting sustainable development and combating global warming.

In international relations, Biden returned to traditional alliances and multilateralism, rebuilt relationships with key allies, and emphasized diplomacy and collaboration.

Trump is different. His divisive rhetoric and actions exacerbated political and social polarization and presented communications that included or even consisted of inflammatory and confrontational language.

Trump initially received credit for boosting the economy with tax cuts and deregulatory policies, but these primarily benefited the wealthy and increased the national debt. His trade wars increased tariffs, hurting American farmers and consumers. He’s done nothing else except cheat at golf.

Trump challenged democratic norms and institutions, claiming widespread voter fraud and undermining trust in voting. His refusal to stop the Jan. 6 insurrection further revealed his rejection of democratic principles.

Trump’s “America First” repelled traditional allies. His withdrawal from agreements such as the Paris Climate Agreement and the Iran nuclear deal, and his contentious trade policies, suggested that America is as unreliable a partner as Trump is.

Trump’s administration displayed conflicts of interest, nepotism, and allegations of corruption. He refused to divest from business interests. His financial dealings lacked transparency.

Trump mishandled social justice issues and civil unrest. He lacked empathy and ignored issues of systemic racism.

Consider the two leaders’ handling of the pandemic.

Early, Trump downplayed the severity of the virus. In February 2020, he stated COVID-19 would “miraculously” disappear by April, like the flu, despite evidence that COVID-19 was deadlier than flu.

He mixed messages regarding masks. Public health officials recommended wearing masks, but Trump appeared without a mask and mocked them.

Trump promoted unproved treatments for COVID-19 such as hydroxychloroquine, and once suggested injecting bleach!

He contradicted and undermined public health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci. He ignorantly disagreed with experts’ recommendations and often dismissed their advice.

Trump’s administration used inconsistent, inadequate testing. Development and test distribution delays hampered early detection and containment.

Wallowing in ignorance, Trump politicized the pandemic, framing public health measures like lockdowns and mask mandates as partisan issues.

Federal response to personal protective equipment shortages for health care workers was slow and disorganized. Hospitals and front-line workers faced critical shortages of masks, gloves, and other essential supplies, increasing their risk.

Trump failed to implement a comprehensive national pandemic strategy. He left individual states to manage their responses, leading to an ineffective policy patchwork.

While Operation Warp Speed accelerated vaccine development, initial rollout of vaccines faced logistical challenges and communication issues. The distribution plan lacked clarity and coordination, yielding delays and confusion.

Throughout, Trump made misleading statements about COVID-19, its transmission, and the effectiveness of certain measures, resulting in higher rates of infection and mortality.

Consider Biden. Upon taking office, Biden ramped up vaccine distribution. He set a goal of administering 100 million vaccine doses in his first 100 days and surpassed it. He expanded vaccine availability, opening mass vaccination sites and increasing the supply to states.

The Biden administration passed, in March, 2021, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package providing direct financial assistance to Americans, extended unemployment benefits, funded vaccine distribution, and supported small businesses, mitigating the pandemic’s economic impact.

Biden prioritized clear, consistent messaging. His administration regularly held press briefings with leading public health officials.

Biden implemented mask mandates on federal property and federal transportation systems. He encouraged states and local governments to adopt mask mandates and other measures.

On day one, Biden reversed Trump’s decision to withdraw from the WHO, committing to following international health guidelines.

Biden’s administration increased funding for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing efforts. Recognizing vaccine hesitancy as preventing achieving herd immunity, Biden launched extensive public education.

He shared surplus vaccine doses with other countries and invested in public health infrastructure, support for biomedical research, and rapid development and distribution of vaccines and treatments.

He cared.

On their debate, I like the conjecture that helpers fed Biden antihistamine to prevent a runny nose and produced the common sleepiness effect. It wore off and you got the North Carolina post-debate energy burst.

Trump’s nonstop lying resulted from the absence of principles stemming from the absence of character.

Richard S. Bogartz is professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.