One year ago this week, Donald Trump was telling the nation there was no real threat from the coronavirus, that only fifteen people had it in the country and soon that number would be down to zero.
It was clear very quickly that he was out of his depth and only interested in his own re-election chances.
Given a choice between caring about the country and caring about himself, there was no contest which one he would consistently pick.
Recall that for crucial months Trump and his administration refused to wear face masks. In fact, they loudly mocked those who did. Then Trump started prescribing snake oil cure likes hydroxychloroquine, as Dr. Anthony Fauci stood behind him on the White House podium with his hands over his face.
It became a lethal circus. Trump continually misled the nation about the scale of the coronavirus threat and it ended up costing us over half a million American lives.
I don't know how anyone in the former Trump administration or how Trump himself now lives with the consequences of his crass mishandling of the pandemic, but since he and they were so busy attempting to overthrow our democracy in January I don't think they have taken much time to reflect on where their respective failures have led us.
I have taken time to reflect on where their failures led us, however. I remember how quiet the New York streets suddenly became. At night I rarely saw a vehicle on the road that wasn't another ambulance with its siren blaring.
The city that never sleeps looked like a bomb had somehow vaporized all the people but left the buildings standing. For months it went on like this. It was a living nightmare, but it was real, it was happening.
Even now with working vaccines being made available the city is still just a shadow of its former self. Most nights the streets are still as quiet as a Connecticut suburb. Restaurants and bars and clubs and theaters and cinemas are all still mostly closed. The long shadow cast by this emergency is still falling, although the first green shoots of hope are unmistakably beginning to bloom.
I have also taken time to reflect that the most signature thing about Trump, the one quality above all others that led us into this disaster, being the most immediate and obvious thing about him: that he lives almost entirely without love.
In his world love is only for losers and chumps. Love is another expensive possession like a Rolex watch or a pair of Louboutin heels. Everything is transactional, including women and affection, it all has a price.
By approaching the world in this loveless, transactional way, Trump's inner values quietly became the nation's. Caring only about himself, he could never see how his actions impacted on others. Caring only for power, he could not see how many people this selfish approach would fail.
If you have a president who sees the nation as a business proposition rather than a people, you will soon have policies that treat them as spectators rather than citizens. Trump just treated his job as an endless game show, but it was never a game.
The pandemic he repeatedly ignored quickly separated us from each other, it made intimacy a threat. We couldn't congregate with our friends. We were isolated and locked down. In our isolation and loneliness, we experienced for a year what it has felt like to be a man like Trump for a lifetime. Loveless, friendless, isolated, alone.
Isn't it ironic that when a man without empathy for others becomes president, it leads to a time without empathy for most of the nation too?
So please remember the isolation and loneliness of this pandemic year, when your kids – and you – were forced to shelter in cones of safety that actually felt like prison cells. And realize that you got an unexpected foretaste of what it feels like to be a Trump. And don't make that mistake again.