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CityWatch: We need love (and trust in our leaders) in the time of coronavirus

  • Updated
John A. Carlos II

Gov. Henry McMaster gives updates on the state’s preparedness for COVID-19 at the state emergency operations center on March 15, 2020. The governor announced Friday that businesses in all 46 counties can apply for low-interest loans provided through the U.S. Small Business Administration. File/John A. Carlos II/Special to The Post & Courier

Those familiar with the Nobel prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez no doubt recognize the title of this column as a play on the writer’s celebrated novel, Love in the Time of Cholera.

Personally, I’ve always thought his other epic work, One Hundred Years of Solitude, made both deeper points and more sense. (Marquez novels are brilliant but bizarre, not just in the plots but with the interjection of magical themes and occurrences.)

But his tale of love and cholera in another place and time is more of a parallel to our story of love and coronavirus today.

While Marquez was writing about romantic love, the story is set in the context of the outbreak of a deadly disease. Regardless of the progress of both man and medicine, we have the same hopes and fears today as the characters in the time of the novel.

By the way, the Marquez story of romantic love is no Hallmark movie. Should you decide to read it, you have been warned.

Beyond romantic love, Marquez’s novels explore the pain and suffering of both people and peoples over decades and centuries. May our modern malady and its effects pass much more quickly.

But whatever is to come, we are in need of love in the time of coronavirus. Or at least a lessening of hate and division. More specifically, political hate and division.

My suggestion is simple: It’s time for Trump haters to give it a rest. And the same goes for Benjamin haters.

What Donald Trump is doing nationally as president to fight the virus needs the support of Democrats, and what Steve Benjamin is doing locally as mayor to fight the virus needs the support of Republicans.

From our president (yes, he is) to our mayor (yes, he is), we should back the decisions of those we put in power as they attempt to address the problems that are here and now.

The same is true for Gov. Henry McMaster, Rep. Jim Clyburn (our senior congressman), Sen. Lindsey Graham (our senior senator) and others in Columbia and Washington.

They must work together, period. As must we all.

That is not to say policy differences on how best to fight coronavirus should not be debated. But it is to say that the debate should be about policy, not politics.

And certainly not about whether something makes Trump look bad and gives Biden an advantage, or vice versa. And so on with politicians at every level.

Indeed, any elected officials who try to divide us in order to gain political advantage in the face of what is simultaneously both a public health and economic crisis should be remembered — and removed — at their next election.

And whether you like an individual politician or not, be it at the local, state or federal level, these are the people we have — and the people we elected — to lead us.

As such, we need them to step up, to rise above the bitter partisanship of today’s politics and public discourse and deal with the crisis. And they need us to step up and do the same.

Once we get this behind us, there will be plenty of time to trash Trump, bash Biden, mock McMaster and belittle Benjamin.

But not now.

Fisher is president of Fisher Communications, a Columbia advertising and public relations firm. He is active in local issues involving the arts, conservation, business and politics.

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