Alan Zimmerman (VA): ‘This Tragic Failure Will Define Trump’s Pitiful Legacy’
Alan Zimmerman (61), a Democrat from Charlottesville, VA, was president of Congregation Beth Israel in Charlottesville during the Unite the Right march in August 2017. Zimmerman remembers standing on the steps, watching armed neo-Nazis shouting “Heil Hitler.” He was “not surprised that there is anti-Semitism in America—I’m not naïve—but that it could be displayed so brazenly and even proudly in the streets of an American city was frankly shocking.”
What do you think about the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic?
The federal response has overall been criminally negligent. Two months were wasted while Trump denied there was a problem, and there was no one in his administration of sycophants to push back. In the last few weeks, however, now that the problem can no longer be denied, more responsible people in government seem to have pushed Trump aside and are mobilizing (They still have to let Trump be the mouthpiece, but it is clear that he is providing little executive management at this point). I think, more than anything, this tragic failure will define Trump’s pitiful legacy
Has the threat from the virus been overblown?
At this point, I have no way of knowing if the threat of the virus was overblown. That said, medical professionals across the board all seem very, very concerned, so a “better safe than sorry” approach makes sense to me.
What measures have you taken in your own life to protect yourself and others from the virus?
Both my wife and I are over 60, so statistically higher risk, but we are both in good health, so I’m not that worried about us. Our son is diabetic, however, so we are hunkered down for his sake. I already work from home for my job, so I did not have to adjust to that.
If you are a Trump supporter or leaning toward voting for Trump, has his administration’s response to the pandemic affected your support for the president?
Thank G-d this question does not apply to me.
During the most recent debate, who do you think was strongest in responding to questions about the pandemic—Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders?
I thought Joe Biden was better than Bernie Sanders. At issue now is the immediate need to get through the next few months, which Biden focused on. Sanders seemed to focus on the larger question of how our system of health care is affecting our ability to respond. This is an important issue, but now is not the time to discuss it. If your house is burning, you should first put out the fire, then figure out what caused it, so you don’t make the same mistake again.
Who do you think won the debate?
I would call it a tie. Not in the sense that one failed to get the better of the other, but in the sense that I think both accomplished their goals. Biden wanted to appear presidential and avoid a serious gaffe. He did that. Sanders wanted to take advantage of possibly his last debate on a national stage to press his message. He did that, at least partially. As for the politics of it all, Biden won by not losing. Sanders’ choice to attack Biden on all those old votes was a mistake. Given the current situation, it seemed tone-deaf.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
If you have any hand sanitizer, please send it to me.