There was once a time when tragedy and national challenges brought Americans together. From the moonshot to 9/11, we knew moments of national trial call for one nation locked in common purpose and solidarity.
But in the coronavirus times? Well, this hasn’t proved to be one of those times thus far. That has to change. Even in the midst of an election as acrimonious as any in generations, Americans must be united in fighting this horrible virus. There is no better opportunity to do so than in celebrating the development of a vaccine that can end our national nightmare.
Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s effort to create a vaccine, has been one of the greatest successes of an otherwise pretty miserable five months of disease and lockdown. Dr. Moncef Slaoui, who took over the effort in May, told me in Washington last month he has high confidence that a drug could be rolled out by year’s end; his optimism is shared by America’s attending physician, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Ironically, part of the cause for optimism is the fast spread of the virus itself. Slaoui estimated between 15 and 25 percent of Americans have already contracted COVID-19, which makes vaccine testing easier and faster. It also means that fewer Americans would need to a take a vaccine to achieve herd immunity.
But this hasn’t stopped partisan critics, including at The New York Times, from taking baseless potshots at the effort and hinting at supposedly dangerous corner-cutting in the operation.
Yes, Operation Warp Speed, as its name suggests, has moved into Phase Three trials in record time, months, not over a year, as is usual. But this is a result of an unprecedented effort and nearly limitless resources. Its success is mirrored by other efforts in other nations, including Britain. But those efforts aren’t coming under politically motivated scrutiny. Only the American vaccine is.
Let’s be blunt. If going into November, it seems clear that the Trump administration has fast-tracked a drug that can in short order deliver us from the devastation of the lockdowns, giving us our lives and our children’s educations back, it will massively help the president at the ballot box.
And it should. These are the kinds of accomplishments upon which we judge presidents. But we should remember that President Trump isn’t the one in the lab. This achievement could have happened under many presidents, and rooting for a successful vaccine doesn’t mean you have to vote Trump if we get one — or that it’s certain he’ll get re-elected.
We live in a time in which politics have infused every aspect of our lives. But for God’s sake, politics shouldn’t shape our quest to defeat the coronavirus. Let’s have this thing to cheer for as one. Let’s as one nation celebrate the efforts of scientists working not only to save lives but for a functioning society for us all.
Let Democrats and Republicans and everyone in between agree that this medical marvel we will soon grasp is a win for everyone, not another chip in a cynical casino game of politics.
When we look back over this period of crisis, this unprecedented stoppage of our lives, one of our great disappointments and one of our greatest causes for alarm should be the lack of unity we have displayed. We haven’t been figuratively in each other’s arms; we have been at each other’s throats. And if we can’t bring ourselves to celebrate together at the prospect of a scientific achievement of this magnitude, then where are we as a nation?
How badly have we failed the generations that cherished victory in Europe, man’s exploration in space, the triumph over Communism in the Cold War?
Come November, somebody is going to be elected president, millions of Americans will be joyous, and millions of others despondent. That’s fine. But come January, when God willing a vaccine rolls out, we must be together as Americans, willing to set aside politics for the good of the nation and our children. Politicize anything else — sports, food, clothing — but not this vaccine. Can we remember how to celebrate together? Can we remember how to be one nation? Can we remember feeling pride and accomplishment? As dark as our lingering midnight has been, never bet against America when dawn blinks in the horizon.
David Marcus is The Federalist’s New York correspondent. Twitter: @BlueBoxDave
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