In the midst of a global pandemic, we would hope to hear from elected leaders reassuring words that inspire confidence they are acting in the best interests of Americans.
After all, they have been entrusted with decisionmaking power that affects the well-being of everyone, regardless of skin color, wealth, gender, age, politics — or COVID-19 status.
Ninth District Congressman Trey Hollingsworth’s words to an Indianapolis radio station on recently, however, were anything but reassuring.
The two-term Indiana congressman speaking about economic concerns related to the continued shutdown of businesses during the pandemic, told WIBC that “it is always the American government’s position to say, in the choice between the loss of our way of life as Americans and the loss of life, of American lives, we have to always choose the latter.”
Let that sink in. Loss of life is an acceptable cost of doing business, according to Hollingsworth.
He didn’t stop there, but dug his hole even deeper.
“The social scientists are telling us about the economic disaster that is going on. Our [Gross Domestic Product] is supposed to be down 20 percent alone this quarter,” Hollingsworth said across the airwaves. “It is policymakers’ decision to put on our big boy and big girl pants and say it is the lesser of these two evils.
“It is not zero evil, but it is the lesser of these two evils and we intend to move forward that direction. That is our responsibility and to abdicate that is to insult the Americans that voted us into office.”
Well, he got the insult part right. Reaction to Hollingsworth’s comments was swift and overwhelmingly negative.
Little wonder why, when the multi-millionaire businessman from Jeffersonville seemingly placed more value on the almighty dollar than on human life.
We the “expendable” people, apparently.
As Americans weep in anguish while our loved ones sacrifice and die, Hollingsworth used trite cliches to push an aggressive, potentially deadly business agenda.
Once criticism of his stance began to mount, Hollingsworth appeared to back down. He told CNN in a prepared statement issued by his office later Tuesday: “It’s hyperbolic to say that the only choices before us are the two corner solutions: no economy or widespread casualties.
“We can use the best of biology and economics to enable as much of the economy to operate as possible while we work to minimize disease transmission.”
His revised stance strikes us as too little — it didn’t include an admission his words were ill-chosen, or an apology — and too late to make a difference.
He had already struck the match and lit a firestorm that could cost him his seat in Congress.
His situation reminds us of that of Richard Mourdock, who had bested longtime U.S. Senator Dick Lugar in the 2012 Indiana Primary. In a tight race again Democrat Joe Donnelly, then-GOP state Treasurer Mourdock said in the closing minutes of a debate that when victims of rape are impregnated “that’s something God intended to happen.”
Mourdock’s campaign never recovered, and he lost the election.
The same outcome could befall Hollingsworth, who is campaigning for re-election. While he has no opponent in the Republican Primary, five Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination to take him on in the General election. You can bet not one of them will forget what Hollingsworth said on the radio broadcast.
And they shouldn’t. Nor should the rest of us.
Lives should never be considered a write-off expense for business.
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