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Editorial: Trump is a danger to our country

Editorial: Trump is a danger to our country

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We’d like to point out two numbers — 220,910 and 225,084 — to give you a bit of perspective before Election Day.

The first is the estimated total population of Linn and Benton counties, according to the Portland State University Population Research Center. The second is the United States’ COVID-19 death toll as of Tuesday, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The equivalent of every man, woman and child in the mid-Willamette Valley, and then some, has fallen victim to the novel coronavirus pandemic in our country.

The United States has had the worst response in the world during this global crisis, to judge from the official figures, and scientists agree that our death toll is artificially low due to underreporting. Regardless, our numbers are continuing to rise as we head into what could be a macabre winter.

How bad could things get? Doctors currently are determining protocols regarding which COVID-19 patients they should kick out of intensive care units and stop treatment for should hospitals become overwhelmed again.

It didn’t have to be this way. But, to put it bluntly, we have a massive failure in leadership.

We’re facing a test unlike anything the United States has seen in generations. The White House’s response is that of a petulant rebel without a clue: Go ahead and flunk me.

For those of you who haven't been paying attention, the White House essentially raised the white flag Sunday, saying it wasn’t going to try to control the novel coronavirus pandemic.

President Donald Trump should be voted out of office because he is a menace to public health. Not only that, but he also is a danger to our economy, a threat to our democracy and a corrosive force undermining the bedrock values that define the United States.

Our editorial board debated about whether to issue an endorsement in the presidential race. Our newspapers haven’t regularly issued recommendations regarding our nation’s top position, and this isn’t something we necessarily plan to do in the future.

But Trump doesn’t present a simple disagreement about policy.

As we’ve written before regarding the pandemic, Trump repeatedly lied and downplayed the severity of COVID-19 to the public for months, squandering a head start we had on fighting the novel coronavirus. Thousands of Americans have died and continue to die as a result of his persistent fabrications and his hampering of federal agencies.

Trump has brazenly ignored the science, and his campaign events and rallies — some held at the White House, clearly in violation of the Hatch Act — have helped continue to spread the virus. And his acolytes follow his behavior on things such as refusing to wear masks, one of the simplest ways to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The president’s falsehoods about COVID-19 have lengthened the economic downturn and the worst spike in unemployment since the Great Depression. And things could get more dire as the weather chills.

Trump has repeatedly tried to delegitimize our electoral process, in part by crying without evidence that vote-by-mail is fraudulent and by hinting that he won’t accept the election result if he loses. He has admitted to sabotaging the ability of the U.S. Postal Service to process mail in an attempt to make voting more difficult for citizens.

The president has long encouraged violence against those he perceives as his enemies, including the free press and Black Lives Matter demonstrators. He has wielded his power like a club, most notably in response to protests for racial justice.

His rhetoric is dangerous. The president refused to denounce racist and far-right groups deemed domestic terrorist threats by our own government, thereby encouraging them.

Then there are the aspects of corruption within his administration, including the criminal convictions of several employees, and the obliteration of rules and norms regarding profiting off public office.

Have we mentioned that Trump enjoys cozying up to dictators and has damaged America's post-World War II alliances?

There’s never been anything quite like Trump, and his tenure has been to the detriment of our nation.

We must demand better of our president than Trump is willing or able to provide. And that’s why we urge you to vote for Joe Biden like the future of the United States depends on it.

The health of our nation, literally and figuratively, seems to be at stake.

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