The logic of Irony: Covid, Constitution, President, Divine Intervention and Fauci

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In unnamed small town, there was a pathole in the road. People repeatedly facing problems with that pathole, resorted to the governor for a solution. The governor asked for three days-time to think about a solution. Three days later, the people returned to the governor for the solution. The governor, known for his wisdom and decisive decisions asked the people, what did you say the problem was? They said, there is a big pathole in the road, and many people fall in it and get injured, and the hole is far from hospital, and the hole has been so far a problem to human life in town. The governor said, well the solution is easy. You say that the pathole is big, you say that the pathole is far from hospital, and I assume it takes long time to transfer someone to hospital. People replied: Yes governor. Then the governor said, well, you can patch that pathole… and dig another nearer to the hospital.

Governors in the South, and Georgia Governor, Brian Kemp on Monday granted businesses across the state a permission to reopen later this week. The governor’s decision is that fitness centres, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, hair and nail salons, and massage therapy businesses can reopen as early Friday, April 24. Theatres and restaurants will be allowed to open on Monday, April 27.  There is no such physical proximity between people as the case in, say, body art studios, or massage therapy business where massage business is akin to hugging.

However, the idea of the governor, as he announced, the reopening is happening while there are more hospital beds ready to receive more patients.  This is a pre-emptive argument which implies that relaxing the restrictive measures are not necessarily successful: it is no problem for you to go to have a massage because a hospital bed is currently available for you.  The governor is right because the governor does not reflect the governor’s governing capacity rather the governor’s socio-political dimension. The governor is an extension of the system which is dysfunctional for three reasons:

First, it is dysfunctional because it is a product of different conflicting factors: These are, as the current situation shows: The American People, The Constitution, The President, Faith (or divine intervention), and Anthony Fauci.  I will allude to these below.

Second: The system is dysfunctional because there is no definition of the system. And there is no definition because there is no central authority that, in case of absence of a definition, that authority could substitute such a definition. For example, testing for the Covid-19 has been major problem so far, yet, the federal government says ‘it is not our business, it is the state’s task to do testing, the states’ response is ‘we cannot do it on our own’. Then testing itself takes backseat and the argument about whose responsibility is testing prevails.

Third, the system is dysfunctional because the leading president is not ‘the’ president but a persona-president. The definition of persona president is an individual who sits in office while the office itself is secondary to the persona of the individual. That is to say, the office is defined by the individual, not the individual defined by the office. However, in some cases, strong leaders throughout history have defined their offices giving them both human and historical dimensions.  In the case of President Trump, he is a persona-president with, perhaps, lack the ‘leadership’. In this case the system is, perhaps, dysfunctional twice: the office is dysfunctional and its purpose is the same.

The Covid-19 impact on the American people, besides its severe and tragic impact on human lives, and besides its impact on the American promising economy, it has further divided the American people.  The American people are known for uniting and rallying behind their president in times of peril and threats. The president’s persona in times of threat and despair incorporates a set of American values and traditions which reflect the concept of a nation.  One of the features of the American system is that the president does not have total authority, yet, in times of war, or in times of threat, the authority of the president is earned through the president’s bold, wise, and judicious character which gives the president a far deeper sense of authority.  Currently, the American people are not sure where to find solace and refuge: They take their own initiatives to protect themselves, of which they are well known for community cohesion in times of war(s).  They turn to the constitution, the 10th Amendment or the 2nd, which at times could help more. They turn to the president, but not many of them dare doing so. They would rather hope for “warm weather to defeat the virus”. They turn to faith- the conflict of whether to keep Churches remain open or not.  They turn to Anthony Fauci. Today Fauci says: we should have been better prepared, the next day, he announces linguistic adjustments. And Fauci, sometimes, cannot speak enough because he is tired. The logic of irony is that human suffering increases when it generates more suffering especially in times of division and political discord.

Dr. Nath Aldalala’a Professor of International Relations, Shandong University. China




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