just saying it …..

Day 56. As a trial lawyer you learn early on that you can not convince a judge or a jury of your position by talking at that them; by telling them what they should believe and what decision they should reach. Judges and juries want to reach their own decisions after hearing the positions and arguments of both sides. The role of the advocate is to communicate effectively, credibly and to educate. If one demonstrates respect for his audience, takes the time to methodically explain the merits of the position being advocated, and maintains personal credibility then a reasonable chance of convincing the listener of the merits of his position will exist. When a trial lawyer jumps to the conclusion desired, skips the education, demands a result, and does so with little credibility he will fail.

What does this have to do with this pandemic? At this juncture everything. Two months of sheltering at home appears to have largely stabilized health care resources and facilities and has or is flattening infection curves. The cost in human lives and to the economy has been enormous. 78,000 Americans have died and multi-millions of Americans have become unemployed. Clearly, sheltering in place until a vaccine is discovered is not sustainable.

But the dilemma is how to we get from here to there?

In my view one thing is clear. We are not going to successfully transition to the next phase of managing this enormous crisis by lying to the public, by declaring “mission accomplished”, or by telling Americans that we must open the economy and accept that another 75,000 people will likely die by August. A public that has been protecting itself from Covid-19 by taking extraordinary measures for the last two months is simply not going to buy it. People are not going to suddenly give up their personal safety and protection and rush to “open up America” just because someone tells them that they have to or tries to give them false hope by selling them on some alleged miracle drug.

No doubt, we must slowly and thoughtfully begin to pivot to our new reality. A reality which will be ours for many months to come. But such a massive change in the way we live requires honest leadership which respects and educates the public about how to best live and work in the face of an ongoing risk of infection. Until and unless our governmental leaders and politicians stop telling us what they want us to believe and instead make the effort to educate the public about how to safely live through the remaining months (hopefully months, not years) of this pandemic, I fear that we are on a disastrous course.

Just saying it doesn’t make it so.

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