Why you need not really feel unhappy about Donald Trump catching COVID

A special reply is that of the retributivist, in accordance with which Trump’s despicable actions and character make his struggling much less unhealthy than a traditional individual’s, and presumably even a great factor.

I discover each solutions unsatisfactory. Retributivism is flawed that the struggling of unhealthy folks is much less unhealthy and even good. Everybody’s welfare is equally intrinsically beneficial. Struggling is all the time a nasty factor (in and of itself). However on the identical time, I agree that it is vitally exhausting to simply accept that we must always really feel any disappointment at Trump’s prognosis. There’s even one thing mildly ridiculous about these whom it saddens.

I wish to recommend a non-retributivist account of why Trump’s prognosis doesn’t name for disappointment. It’s as a result of his having COVID-19 just isn’t all that unhealthy for him relative to his situation extra typically. Trump’s soul is vastly disordered. Whereas he has the outward trappings of well-being — specifically, materials wealth and profession success— internally he’s struggling tremendously. This isn’t to say that he feels unhealthy essentially. I doubt very a lot whether or not he cries himself to sleep at evening, experiences pangs of vacancy, or something like that. It’s to say somewhat that, as Plato would put it, he has allowed the bottom or appetitive a part of his soul to control or rule the rational half. He’s enslaved by himself. On the very least, he’s lower off from actually shut and enriching relationships. Due to his fakeness and refusal to indicate vulnerability of any form, he’s unable to benefit from the nice items that include displaying to others who one actually is and being accepted and even liked for it.

Matt Damon playing Tom Ripley alongside Gwyneth Paltrow in the 1999 film "The Talented Mr Ripley".

Matt Damon enjoying Tom Ripley alongside Gwyneth Paltrow within the 1999 movie “The Proficient Mr Ripley”.Credit score:Alamy

Trump is, for these causes, like Tom Ripley on the finish of The Proficient Mr Ripley, whose lies upon lies have led him to be metaphorically trapped in a basement. In his concluding soliloquy, Ripley says “I’m misplaced…I’m going to be caught within the basement, aren’t I, that’s my—horrible and alone and darkish—and I’ve lied about who I’m, and the place I’m, and now no person will ever discover me…I suppose I all the time thought it might be higher to be a pretend anyone than an actual no person.” The distinction is that Tom, on the finish of the movie, is conscious of the place he has ended up and the way unhealthy his place is for him. I don’t suppose Trump is conscious of this in his case. However he’s nonetheless there, alone in his basement.

This, I consider, is one thing that many people (together with particularly those that regard feeling disappointment on the considered Trump’s COVID-19 mildly ridiculous) are implicitly conscious of. It is a one who is in truth very poorly off. We shouldn’t wish to be him, for all his materials wealth and success.


Catching COVID-19, then, is the least of Trump’s issues. It doesn’t considerably add to them. It’s trivial in comparison with being within the basement. And because of this it’s odd to say that one ought to really feel unhappy for him, and certainly ridiculous to really really feel such issues. It’s odd or ridiculous as a result of it neglects the truth that there’s a lot else that’s going badly for Trump himself. It’s like feeling badly for somebody who has terminal most cancers in the event that they get an itch. It’s like feeling unhappy for Tom Ripley if he had been to contract some bodily sickness.

So, I believe we must always really feel unhappy for Trump, however not for his catching COVID-19. We must always really feel unhappy for him that he’s so totally monstrous: that his soul is in turmoil, that he’s lower off from most of the greatest issues in life, which require displaying who one is and one’s personal vulnerability. Trump is, I wish to recommend, one of many worst off folks on the planet. Let’s pray for him certainly, as Biden and Obama have stated. However not for his COVID-19. Allow us to pray that he by some means finds his manner out of the darkish basement that he’s in, and, in Plato’s metaphor of the cave, manages to glimpse some gentle.