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2020: Trumpism Metastasizes into Coronavirus Pandemic

The two biggest stories of 2020 in South Dakota and across our nation were the pandemics of coronavirus and Trumpism. Both pandemics threaten the survival of our economy and our democracy; both pandemics have been set back by courageous and rational action; yet both pandemics linger, their virulent pathogens continuing to infect millions and demanding our continued vigilant labor for the common good.

These twin pandemics are really one pandemic, two pathogens in symbiotic relationship, one metastasizing quite logically from the other, each exposing a grave and widespread failure of intellect, empathy, and community spirit among the American people. The same misguided impulses that led us to ignore the plain evidence of Donald Trump’s ignorance, selfishness, destructiveness, and unfitness for office has led America to more deaths from coronavirus than any other nation and led South Dakota to the worst coronavirus infection and death rates in nursing homes in the country.

2020 finally brought Trump his crown.
2020 finally brought Trump his crown.

346,000 Americans and 1,488 South Dakotans did not have to die from coronavirus in 2020. Globally, 1 out of 4,200 human beings died of coronavirus in 2020. Yet at the same time, coronavirus managed to kill one out of 945 Americans and one out of 595 South Dakotans. Your chance of dying of coronavirus was 4.4 times greater in America and 7.1 times greater in South Dakota.

Such is the “greatness” that our Trumpism made. Far too many Americans and farther too many South Dakotans chose selfish impulses over concern for others in response to both Donald Trump (and Kristi Noem) and in response to coronavirus.

Donald Trump won office four years ago not with a majority vote of Americans swayed by his superior intellect, compassion, management skills, and policymaking ability. Trump won office four years ago by duping just enough people with just enough Electoral College votes into thinking politics is just a reality-TV call-in vote and that the effectiveness governance of the most powerful nation on the planet is less important than making liberals cry and enjoying daily affirmations of one’s own weaknesses and dark impulses from an angry clown behind the White House podium. Trumpists didn’t want honesty or good government; they wanted someone to scratch their ids, to make them feel like its o.k. to be ignorant, to ramble aimlessly, to harbor bigoted and sexist impulses.

That embrace of bullying incompetence led to the federal government’s abject failure to effectively respond to the coronavirus pandemic. 47% of Americans and 62% of South Dakotans did not care and voted for four more years of the American carnage brought on by Trump’s failure to transition from celebrity noisemaker to committed public servant. They voted for Trump because Trump makes them feel good. To keep that good feeling Trumpists will reject plain fact and overturn democracy itself.

The same selfish urges that let Trumpism run rampant in our politics also let coronavirus run rampant through our nation and our state.  Many Americans and South Dakotans didn’t wear masks because masks are inconvenient and masks are for sissies. They didn’t stay home from bars and restaurants and parties because they want to have fun. They didn’t avoid travel because they hold their personal ambitions and recreation to be more important than protecting others from catching a deadly disease. They ignored and denigrated scientists in favor of cranks who made outlandish, false, and dangerous claims. Faced with unpleasant and irrefutable facts, they resorted to a nihilist relativism, modeled by Donald Trump and Kristi Noem, in which the “truth” is whatever they want it to be, whatever they say over and over in at their photo ops and campaign rallies, whatever they need to hear to preserve their worldviews and their streams of campaign finance.

This relativism, cloaked in pious, patriotic posturing, has plagued our politics for longer than either Donald Trump or Kristi Noem has been in politics. But amidst coronavirus, this relativism demonstrated its full nihilist power. Coronavirus doesn’t care what fictions Trump and Noem create for their political gain. Coronavirus, like any infectious disease, thrives amidst reckless behavior. Ignore the facts, ignore science, ignore the needs of others for your own selfish wants, and Nom nom nom! says coronavirus, as four to seven times more of your neighbors die of a virulent yet controllable disease than if you had read all the science and acted accordingly.

The coronavirus pandemic is the crowning achievement of Trumpism. Because many of us think and act like Trump, a thousand South Dakotans and hundreds of thousands of Americans died in 2020 who would not have died otherwise.

Beating coronavirus and beating Trumpism go hand in hand. We must reject relativism, quackery, and conspiracy theories and accept facts, evidence, and science, even when the facts, evidence, and science lead to conclusions we don’t like. We must think beyond slogans and put our piety and patriotism into real practice by sacrificing some selfish wants for public needs. We must apply real intellect to our political discussions and elect genuine public servants, not empty suits and hairdos who play to the cameras and campaign donors.

Such are the lessons we must learn from the twin pandemics of 2020.


  1. Bill O’Donnell 2021-01-02 10:11

    Your poor spelling delegitimized this article. I normally like your writing but this oversight is really bad.

  2. leslie 2021-01-02 10:27

    Infections grew from 10M Nov 8 to 20M now.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-01-02 10:42

    Thanks, and apologies, Bill! I have corrected the headline. I hope you’ll come back for the rest.

  4. kj trailer trash 2021-01-02 11:58

    You’ve outdone yourself this time, Cory–one of the best takedowns of Noem and Trump and other morons that I’ve read to date.

  5. Mark Anderson 2021-01-02 12:34

    The lying losers supporters, lying losers themselves are going after Governor Kate Brown who’s done a great job on Coronavirus in her state of Oregon. Just about the same amount of deaths as South Dakota. Let’s say that again, just about the same amount of deaths as South Dakota. Now, let’s compare the amount of people in each state, Oregon, 4,217,737 people, South Dakota, 884,659. Which Governor has done better, Kate Brown or Kristi Noem? The lying losers in Oregon must want more deaths, five times more deaths if they do it the kristi way. Just a fact boys and girls, your lucky I didn’t pick Vermont for comparison. Kristi Noem has decided making decisions that will save lives isn’t worth it and that tells you everything about the current Republican lack of mind.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-01-02 12:42

    Leslie, at least we can be thankful that Trumpism didn’t double its infection rate in two months. Unfortunately, Trumpism appears to be a chronic condition, hard to shake, for most of its victims.

  7. Joe 2021-01-02 13:05

    A sweet South Dakota story, from the Sanford Health FB page (includes a video clip of the event):

    “Eric Vanderlee, a registered nurse in Canton, South Dakota, has been helping administer the COVID-19 vaccine to local health care workers. But he noticed something strange when he went to give the shot to one fellow Sanford Health employee. Robby Vargas-Cortes, an EMS supervisor and Eric’s boyfriend, had an engagement ring taped to his arm. Robby got his vaccine – and an enthusiastic yes from his now fiancé. Congratulations, Eric and Robby!”

  8. mike from iowa 2021-01-02 13:45

    Could noem and drumpfists convince followers Russian Roulette is harmless and allow people to participate with no consequences?

  9. mike from iowa 2021-01-02 13:48

    Does noem believe Russian Roulette is harmless and participants should face no consequences?

  10. Eve Fisher 2021-01-02 16:50

    The best this administration could do about the coronavirus was the worst in the world – and still is.

  11. mike from iowa 2021-01-02 19:35

    1900 bodies for New Years Day and just over 2k for today. Over 358k total deaths.

  12. mike Livingston 2021-01-02 22:05

    Who would have thought that one greedy, hate-filled, misogynistic,xenophobic, and last but not least grifter could manage to bring the greatest country on the planet to the very edge of destruction. I hope the sorry S.O.B chokes on the crow he will have to eat just before he gets perp walked out of the White House.

  13. mike Livingston 2021-01-02 22:23

    As for Bill appointing himself your editor and failing to recognize the value of your insightful analysis smacks of trumpism.

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-01-03 07:21

    (Mike, I invite democratic participation in blogging just as I do in the rest of civic life. I welcome readers to catch misspellings and factual errors, contribute research supporting or challenging my contentions, provide examples and counterexamples, and participate in whatever other way helps make for better blog posts. The point of the process is to work together to make things better. Bill pointed out a problem; I was able to fix it and improve the post. Together we can figure out problems with policy and equip each other to solve those problems with individual and community action.)

  15. mike from iowa 2021-01-03 08:20

    drumpf/noem body count total for 1/2/21 was 2373. Should exceed 21 million total cases today, tomorrow at the latest.

  16. happy camper 2021-01-03 09:14

    While it’s true Trump’s mishandling of Covid rises to criminal, without Covid and his ineptitude, it’s widely believed he would have been reelected. If you need a silver lining at least he’s gonna be gone. We have no idea what escalating damage he would have caused to this country with a second term.

    “How Trump’s erratic behavior and failure on coronavirus doomed his reelection: … the president finally lost, aides and allies said, because of how he mismanaged the virus. This portrait of how Biden defeated Trump — and how Trump helped sabotage his own hopes for a second term — is the result of interviews with 65 Trump and Biden aides, advisers, confidants, lawmakers and political operatives, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to share candid details of the 2020 campaign.”

  17. leslie 2021-01-03 09:59

    If RC mayor and SD governor did not watch CBS Sunday A.M. interview w/ LA Mayor Eric Garcetti—they need to be replaced immediately. Covid is coming for every one of us.

  18. grudznick 2021-01-03 17:23

    A very good blogging, Mr. H. I loved when you typed:

    This relativism, cloaked in pious, patriotic posturing, has plagued our politics for longer than either Donald Trump or Kristi Noem has been in politics. But amidst coronavirus, this relativism demonstrated its full nihilist power. Coronavirus doesn’t care what fictions Trump and Noem create for their political gain. Coronavirus, like any infectious disease, thrives amidst reckless behavior. Ignore the facts, ignore science, ignore the needs of others for your own selfish wants, and Nom nom nom!

    Nom nom nom!

  19. happy camper 2021-01-03 18:52

    For a few, it’s about power and nothing more, thankfully not the majority, which is why our system has held thus far against its deepest threat, ignorance and tribalism. We each must be sure we’re on the right side of those two forces.

  20. mike from iowa 2021-01-03 19:12

    Last updated: January 04, 2021, 01:04 GMT
    United States
    Coronavirus Cases:

  21. mike from iowa 2021-01-05 19:02

    Last updated: January 06, 2021, 00:53 GMT
    United States
    Coronavirus Cases:

    Moar deaths and moar cases due to drumpf/noem incompetence.

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