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OPINION

Mourning in America

It’s clear that the ‘Mourning in America’ ad about Trump’s response to the coronavirus has struck a nerve and it’s easy to understand why: It captures the heartache of a nation.

A still from the Lincoln Project's “Mourning In America” ad.
A still from the Lincoln Project's “Mourning In America” ad.Lesley Becker/"Mourning in America"

Nearly 2,000 Americans died from COVID-19 on Monday, pushing the total American lives lost past the 63,000 mark.

Also on Monday, The Lincoln Project, of which I am a cofounder, released an ad called “Mourning In America.” A critique of President Trump’s dangerous mismanagement of the coronavirus, the somber ad asserts that Trump’s failed presidency has left America weaker, sicker, and, with 1 in 6 Americans applying for unemployment benefits, teetering on the verge of a new Great Depression.

At nearly 1 a.m., when the president of the United States felt compelled to take to Twitter, he could have expressed sorrow for lives lost, empathy for the families who are suffering, or hope and encouragement for those under an unprecedented quarantine. Instead, he launched a childish, unhinged Twitter tirade against some political operatives who made him mad with an ad.

It’s clear that the “Mourning in America” ad has struck a nerve with the president, and it’s easy to understand why. With stark simplicity, it captures the moment in which we live and expresses the heartache of a nation.

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In just a few months, over 71,000 American lives have been lost to this deadly disease, a loss that stands in glaring contrast to the president’s assertion, just a few weeks ago, that it would just “disappear . . . like a miracle.”

Trump didn’t create this virus. But his failure to prepare the nation for the pandemic has directly contributed to the growing number of COVID-19 deaths as well as economic devastation.

As of Wednesday, more than 30 million Americans have lost their jobs. Millions more will likely do so in the weeks ahead. The Paycheck Protection Program, intended to save small businesses across the country, instead distributed much of its funds to large corporations, leaving thousands of small businesses with little hope of survival.

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Every day, millions of Americans stand on line at grocery stores, waiting their turn to get in, with masks on their faces, standing apart from one another, hoping that when they enter there will still be meat in the cooler and toilet paper on the shelves.

Empty shelves where the toilet paper should be at the Stop and Shop on Newport Ave. in Quincy.
Empty shelves where the toilet paper should be at the Stop and Shop on Newport Ave. in Quincy.Stan Grossfeld/ Globe Staff

The social impact has been immeasurable. Non-COVID medical care is avoided or delayed out of people’s fear of being exposed to the disease in health care facilities. Domestic violence and suicides are on the rise. Schools across the nation have shut down, turning parents into teachers and isolating children from their friends. Americans have stopped shaking hands, hugging, or even standing near each other in order to avoid catching the potentially deadly disease. Worse, they are distancing themselves from their loved ones out of the fear that they may inadvertently pass it on to those they care about the most. All of this has created an extraordinary burden for our nation as the fear and uncertainty grows.

The instinct to unite, persevere, and overcome is inherently American, and we see it every day — in our communities, our first responders, our nurses and doctors and front-line workers. Yet there is increasing despair, even among those who are still employed, that we are losing something precious that we may not ever get back.

And we all know, even if we are not all willing to say it out loud, that culpability lies at the feet of Donald Trump. The president made a series of ill-advised, often self-serving decisions that left the entire nation unprepared and vulnerable. He dissolved the pandemic response team out of bitter resentment toward President Obama. He ignored repeated warnings from the intelligence community that the pandemic was coming our way. He repeatedly — for months — dismissed the severity of the disease, misled the American people with dangerously false statements about treatments, the availability of testing, and the need to ramp up our medical response capabilities.

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And while our loved ones are dying alone in quarantined ICU wards, and our grandparents are locked in COVID-contaminated nursing homes, Trump is bragging about “‘Bachelor’ level ratings” for his chaotic and dishonest press briefings and is obsessed with his social media image

This president is dangerously narcissistic, incompetent, and uninformed. The American people are fearful and despairing, not because there is disease in the world, but because they know their president has put his own ego and political interests above the safety and well-being of their families. They know that this president is directly responsible for increased deaths from the coronavirus. And because they know that more will needlessly die as a result of his incompetence before it is all over.

That is why there is mourning in America today.

Jennifer Horn is a cofounder of the Lincoln Project. She served as chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party from 2013 to 2017. Follow her on Twitter @nhjennifer.

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