A recent Quinnipiac University poll found the vast majority of Americans – 68% of Republicans and 95% of Democrats – support stay-at-home orders in order to protect vulnerable citizens from the coronavirus. And then there is that selfish minority that refuses to be inconvenienced in order to protect others.

I have never referred to Donald Trump as the President of the United States because I do not believe he was legitimately elected and because he is in no way fit to serve in that high office. But Donald J. Trump truly is the POTUS, President of the Utterly Selfish.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

You will often see references to how conservatives have taken over the Republican Party, but Trump supporters are not really conservatives. What they have in common is not a political ideology, but a commitment to serving their own self-interest. As such, Trump is the perfect President for the Utterly Selfish. He runs the federal government to benefit himself and his family. He has never used his inherited wealth to help others. And he has never even pretended to represent all Americans, just the mean-spirited minority that supports him.

The Utterly Selfish consist primarily of 2nd Amendment activists, evangelicals, conspiracy theorists, climate change deniers, survivalists and tax-cappers, all people who put their own self interests ahead of the common good. Like Trump, they lack empathy for their fellow human beings. These are people who never learned to share.

As we work our way out of the pandemic, the Utterly Selfish betray all the frontline healthcare workers who risk their own lives daily on our behalf, as do a president and vice president who selfishly refuse to wear protective masks. In Trump’s case, it’s probably vanity, a fear of smearing his makeup. In Pence’s case, it’s sycophancy.

The divide between the majority of Americans who understand that re-opening too soon risks another spike in sickness and death and those protesters who demand that states re-open businesses immediately is not the difference between Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative, fearful and freedom-loving, it is the difference between unselfish and selfish people.

“Give me liberty or give me death” takes on a whole new meaning when gun-toting, flag-waving, Bible-thumping Americans demand the right to die of COVID-19. It would be fine if they were only risking their own lives, but they insist the rest of us risk our lives so they will feel free. Well, they are free to drive anywhere they like, free to walk around, free to go to the grocery store, free to go fishing and hunting, free to move to Georgia, just as long as they keep their distance from others.

I’m sure these pandemic protesters think of themselves as patriotic Americans, but they are no such thing. Patriotism involves self-sacrifice, a willingness to serve the great good. And what the far right is unable or unwilling to understand is that the principles upon which this country was founded are not individual liberties but collective values.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

A more perfect union, domestic tranquility, common defense and the general welfare all depend on good citizens willing to make sacrifices. The people who agitate against self-quarantine are the same people who saddled the U.S. with a dishonest, self-serving chief executive. Selfishness is not good citizenship.

Comments are not available on this story.