According to the polls, a majority of Americans believe Donald Trump bungled the government’s response to the pandemic, and hold him responsible for many preventable deaths. With the economy and unemployment in depression-like conditions, Trump’s major rationale for re-election has evaporated. Even his usual playbook of belittling, fear mongering and lobbing falsehoods at his opponents isn’t working with Joe Biden. Without “build the wall” and “lock her up” rallies, and the troublesome virus not magically disappearing as promised, the president’s frustration has increased. As he watches his reelection prospects spiral downward, Trump has resorted to using a strategy based on the three pillars of his character that have served him well his entire life: racist, liar and fraud.
Trump the Racist
The President’s father, Fred Trump, made no secret of his racism, and little Donny was taught who to hate. While working for his father’s real estate management company, Blacks were unable to rent the apartments the Trump Family owned and managed. The government sued in 1973, claiming Donald, his father and Trump Management Inc. “failed and neglected to exercise their affirmative and nondelegable duty under the Fair Housing Act . . . with the result that equal housing opportunity has been denied to substantial numbers of persons . . .” The Trumps denied the allegations, and agreed to sign a consent decree in 1975, promising to adhere to the regulations of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. No one needs wonder at the length and depth of the President’s racism. Evidence of it has been there right from the beginning.
Before Trump entered the presidential race, he gained national notoriety from his reality TV persona. But New Yorkers were made aware of his unabashed racism when he called for the death penalty to be reinstated in 1989 after five Black and Latino teenagers—known as the Central Park Five—were convicted, without hard evidence, of the brutal rape of a jogger in New York City. He never apologized or changed his position, even though the boys turned out to be innocent, and had their conviction overturned in 2002 after a serial rapist confessed to the crime. Then, of course, there was the totally fabricated, unsubstantiated accusation that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and therefore, illegally occupying the office of President. To Trump, Obama’s crime—he was Black.
Trump the Racist President
As a Presidential candidate, Mexicans and Muslims were added to his list of people to despise-—Mexicans were “rapists and murderers” and Muslims were denigrated as a group in a series of tweets. A dignified gold star family was trashed. And then he became President. He was unleashed, obvious, and able to put his hatred into action. His border wall would keep out those dangerous, disgusting Mexicans, his Muslim ban would keep out the terrorists, and his immigration policies would keep out people coming from “shithole countries,” like Haiti, El Salvador and the entire continent of Africa. But why stop there?
In the summer of 2017, a group of white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched at night through Charlottesville Virginia with burning torches, reminiscent of a typical 1930’s Nazi nighttime march, chanting, “Jews will not replace us.” The next day a white supremacist purposely drove his car through a group of counter protestors, killing one. In commenting on the march, Trump noted there were “very fine people on both sides.” Interestingly, when asked in 2019 to comment about the Central Park Five, he responded in a similar fashion, “You have people on both sides of that.”
It’s no longer a dog whistle. It’s a bull horn, and the white supremacists hear him. They support him, and now he has the perfect opportunity to show them just how fervent, and soulless, a racist he really is.
Trump: Black Lives Don’t Matter
To Donald Trump, Black and Brown lives do not matter. While a large majority of White Americans, stunned by the callous murder of George Floyd, have come to better understand the reality Black Americans face daily, Trump sees the resulting protests against police brutality as a way to rebrand himself as the Law and Order President. For much of his base, there is a nodding of the head: yes, this is the way to handle those left-wing anarchists who hate America. Send in the troops to clear them from the streets. If not the U.S. military, use any armed Federal agency to deal with them: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Marshals Service, the United States Customs and Border Protection, and the Federal Protective Service.
But this is not the viewpoint of a majority of Americans, White, Black, Brown, Asian, and others. Watching a life snuffed out for nine agonizing minutes on the whim of a police officer made it real and undeniable. The country has remembered it wants to be better than that. Perhaps the most visible evidence today is Portland Oregon, a city that was 77% White and 6% Black in the last census. White folks, as American as Apple pie, from “Moms” to GenXers to “Veterans” have gone to the front lines of the protests. And in going to protect the protestors, they’ve also been subjected to the same batons, tear gas, pepper spray and plastic and rubber bullets. They are not looking for glory, or to be glorified, nor should they be. For too long, White Americans haven’t understood, or paid attention to the Black experience in America. But these Oregonians are evidence that something different is happening now across the country: across races, ages, religions and educational backgrounds.
Black Lives Matter Really Matters
But the sad reality is that as long as a dyed-in-the-wool racist is in the White House, and the Republicans follow his lead, nothing of substance will change. All people who believe in the words of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution understand that the Black LIves Matter Movement really matters. So, to effect the kind of change necessary, the most important objectiveis to kick Trump out of office in November.
Trump Doubles Down on Racism
For further proof of Trump’s objective, take note of his announcement last week that voters in suburbs will “no longer be bothered” by low-income housing. He said that his administration’s elimination of an Obama program that ensured fair local housing policies would raise property values and reduce crime in the suburbs. In other words, those who live in what Trump thinks of as lily-white suburban neighborhoods will be protected from having Black neighbors. His White supremacist supporters are cheering. This racist pillar of his character helped him in 2016, and he’s hoping it’s a winning hand in 2020, despite its failure to protect House Republicans in 2018.
Trump the Liar
Trump is a pathological liar. In his constant search for approval and affirmation, he will say anything to anyone if he believes that’s what the listener wants or needs to hear. And it doesn’t matter if he says exactly the opposite before he finishes the sentence as long as the last word is the lie he wants the listener to walk away with. Whatever presents him in the best light or hides the truth about his failures becomes his truth.
Three areas that relate to the Corvid-19 pandemic and its consequences will impact this election:
- Data: including deaths, positive and total cases, testing and the ability of hospitals to cope with a rising number of patients.
- The development of one or more viable vaccines.
- The economy and unemployment.
The impact of this pandemic is the principal factor accounting for Trump’s dramatic disapproval ratings, and Joe Biden’s favorability in the presidential race. Specifically, the public has become aware of the federal government’s failure to implement an effective national response, and the consequential deaths, many preventable, in excess of 150,000. Virtually every responsible medical source has proclaimed the necessity to wear a mask and to address those situations and businesses that create conditions for the virus’ spread. That is the reality and the only way to contain the virus. There is no way around that truth. However, given the continuing failure of Trump and many Republicans to publicly acknowledge that reality, it is likely the numbers will not markedly improve.
Because Trump believes it is bad for his poll numbers—the only metric he seems to care about— he will continue to disown and discredit the facts. He will persist in spouting misinformation about the number of positive cases and deaths, the availability of tests for anyone who wants one, hydroxychloroquine as a cure, and what a wonderful job he’s done on every front, especially keeping the number of deaths well below the 1 or 2 million they would have been otherwise. He repeatedly puts forward the ridiculous premise that testing has caused the large number of cases, and if we tested less, we’d have fewer sick people. He’s like a child playing peek-a-boo—if you can’t see it, it’s gone.
Repression of Actual Numbers
I expect he will also try and repress the actual numbers to slow the bad news or even create numbers that show the situation improving. It seems he is on the way in this direction after changing the location for accumulating statistics. In mid-July the Trump Administration ordered hospitals to stop sending patient data to the CDC, but to send it, instead, to a central data base in Washington. The announced purpose was to streamline or speed up the accumulation of data into a complete system that would enable the Coronavirus Task force to better allocate resources to contain Covid-19. Somehow, this doesn’t smell like the truth.
There seems to be little argument that the current CDC system needed revision, but this change did not go far enough. Specifically, it did not change the way data is accumulated at the hospital level. More importantly, there is concern about the lack of transparency of this new system that will now be controlled by political appointees in the Department of Health and Human Services. The DHS database is not open to the public, and could affect the ability of researchers, health officials and others who rely on C.D.C. data to make projections and important decisions.
Knowing Donald Trump’s history, it is more than likely that he will try in some way to influence the statistics reported. It will be up to Congress—realistically the House of Representatives—the news media and involved health officials to assure that the data is accurate. Hopefully, the truth will out, although not from the President’s mouth.
By March, it was obvious that the virus would spread far beyond more than one or 15 people and would not magically disappear. The medical community’s warnings about hydroxychloroquine stifled the belief it was a cure but rather, could be dangerous to one’s health. Once the great majority of Americans accepted the pandemic wasn’t going to disappear and that people were dying by the thousands everyday, the only miracle remaining for Trump was a vaccine. A competent President would have realized immediately that a national response had to be formulated and implemented. It would have to follow medical and scientific advice about mask wearing, social distancing, lockdowns and reopenings. It would also include invoking the Defense Production Act to assure availability of all needed supplies and equipment. But Donald Trump is grossly incompetent and uninterested in the understanding or dealing with truth of this crisis.
Now he is left with only one option. A vaccine. A vaccine that will reverse the public’s negative views on how he handed the Covid-19 pandemic and a vaccine to save him from being voted out of office. Make no mistake, except for the anti-vaxers, the entire world is hoping for a vaccine. If there is one, Trump will undoubtedly take full credit for it. He will distort the reality that it will not be broadly available until sometime in 2021. If there is no fully tested and proven vaccine within the next few months, expect Trump, with great fanfare, to pronounce there is. The danger of introducing a vaccine before it is fully safety-tested is of no import to hm.
Truth has never been a barrier to Trump before and it won’t be now. I would not put it past him to not only pronounce that a vaccine has been discovered, but to say that it is now available; the virus is now contained, and we are back to normal. It will be up to the news media and involved health officials to keep the truth in front of the public.
The Economy and Unemployment
Prior to Covid-19, an economy with record low unemployment was the pathway to Trump’s reelection. Regardless of actual factual data, he will continue to present the economy as already in great recovery. Here is an example.
Larry Kudlow’s Happy Talk
On July 26th, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow spoke to CNN’s Jake Tapper, who questioned whether the administration pushed to open the economy too quickly and hurt the recovery. In his usual happy talk mode, Kudlow made several observations. “I don’t think the economy is going south,” he said, “I think it’s going north.” To demonstrate the accuracy of his comments, he noted certain indicators—“I know something about that”— citing a housing boom, retail sales boom, retail auto car boom, manufacturing boom, skyrocketing new business applications, and the remaining strong job picture.
When Tapper cited the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report that indicated a June to July decline of about 7 million jobs, Kudlow minimized the importance of the information source. He acknowledged that there could be a decline in employment in the Covid-19 hot spot states of Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, but that would be offset by a big increase in job creation and decrease in unemployment. These hot spot states would moderate the recovery, but he believes the picture is very positive and expects a 20% growth rate in the third and fourth quarters.
Keep in mind this is the same Larry Kudlow who falsely proclaimed the 2017 tax cut had already paid for 80% of the revenue lost— actually 20%— and more outrageously, claiming in February that the Covid-19 virus had been contained. “I won’t say [it’s] airtight, but it’s pretty close to airtight.” Once again, Happy Talk Larry got it wrong. This time, big time.
Actual Second Quarter Economic Results
On July 30th the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported in its “advance” estimate, “Real gross domestic product (GDP) decreased at an annual rate of 32.9 percent in the second quarter of 2020. This was the largest percentage quarterly decrease in GDP on an annualized basis since Government began keeping records
That same day the U.S. Labor Department reported, “In the week ending July 25, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 1,434,000, an increase of 12,000 from the previous week’s revised level.” This seemed more in line with the total employment decrease Tapper reported.
Beware of Trump Sycophants Spreading Lies
It is important to take note because between now and November 3rd, we can expect to hear reports from the likes of Kudlow and other Trump sycophants in the media or even in Congress on how we turned the corner, and it’s blue skies ahead. As virtually every responsible person outside of the stock market knows, the economy as a whole will not truly revive in a meaningful way until the virus is really contained (not Kudlow’s version).
I cite the stock market as I must admit, despite my financial background, I cannot understand the enthusiasm shown there thus far. Certainly, there are many companies that will do well, and if you pick the right ones, you’ll make it big. But the economy as a whole, I don’t think so. Not with so many major names like JCPenney, Hertz, Nieman Marcus, Brooks Brothers, Aldo, Pier 1, gun manufacturer, Remington, and gas engine producer, Briggs and Stratton already in bankruptcy. There are and will be many more, including a large majority of independently owned restaurants and bars. Where will the jobs come from to replace those lost and not replaced when bankrupt companies restructure?
Nonetheless, expect to hear Trump spouting the stock market’s success as THE SIGN that the economy is recovering. It will be up to the news media to make sure the integrity of government reporting is maintained and keep the truth in front of the public.
The only way Donald Trump can win reelection is to cheat. But that’s nothing new. He’s been doing it all his life. Just look at all the contractors who did work for him at one of his properties that were never paid in full, or the students who had to sue him for failing to deliver what was promised at Trump (not a real) University, or people who contributed to his charity, only to have him take the funds for personal use, or his deceased older brother’s family whom he and his siblings cheated out of a fair share of their father, Fred Trump’s estate. And we haven’t even gotten to what is probably his biggest fraud of all: under reporting his income and the value of his assets for Federal and State tax purposes while overstating the value of his properties and net worth when seeking loans.
Voter suppression is the game of choice and the tactics—some which have already been employed—include:
- removing as many registered Democrats from voting rolls as possible (see Georgia 2018);
- not providing funding to states for an expansion of mail in balloting;
- rejecting mail in ballot applications or ballots for minor errors;
- reducing the number of polling places in likely Democratic areas;
- dissemination of false information on voting dates, hours and polling places;
- armed militias or other fierce looking individuals to intercept prospective voters at polling places to frighten them from voting or redirecting them to a different (wrong) location.
The U.S. Postal Service
The corrupt innovators in the Trump campaign have also come up with a new way to create the chaos of mail in voting that Trump has been proclaiming the seeds of voter fraud. The U.S. Postal Service is in financial distress. In large part it is because the Agency must pre-fund 75 years worth of retiree health benefit for new hires. That requirement is estimated to have accounted for 80% to 90% of the losses before the pandemic. Therefore, it is thought more cost-efficient to pay overtime rather than hire new employees.
Trump, the genius of multiple bankruptcies, backed the appointment of Republican mega donor Louis DeJoy as Postmaster General. The ostensible reason was to transform the Postal Service into a profitable business. Despite no real experience in that business, DeJoy instituted a new policy that virtually eliminated overtime necessary to deliver mail on time. A backlog of mail to be delivered is already building and will worsen over time. The result will make true Trump’s prediction of mail in votes coming in weeks after the election.
Rural areas—bastions of Trump support—heavily depend upon the USPS. Perhaps Republicans who are aware that mail-in-voting has worked to their benefit will try and convince the Idiot in Chief of that fact. It will take both funding and a directive to DeJoy that only Trump can deliver to ameliorate the chaos ahead. But I have doubts that will happen.
Given the polls, I believe Trump recognizes he has a steep hill to climb for reelection. His primary concern is an excuse for losing that he can blame on fraud. Thus, the emphasis on mail-in voting, rather than actions to help Republicans down-ballot. Nonetheless, this is an issue that should be constantly brought before the public, so it is clear who is responsible for the delay in mail deliveries and a general decline in postal service.
Trump’s Last-Ditch Attempts to Steal the Election
Whatever it takes, you can be sure Trump will try it. Though roundly rejected by many of his own Republican sycophants, Trump’s call for a delay in the voting from November 3rd to some unspecified date in the future is his latest attempt to hold on to power. It won’t be his last.
It cannot be overstated that this is a dangerous time for America. Trump’s grandiosity and need for power places himself over the Constitution of the United States, and his Republican sycophants have enabled him to do so. Democracy is truly at stake. Do not underestimate the lengths to which he’ll go to remain in power. And that is before the election. Imagine his reaction if he loses— but that’s another story.
For now, it is up to the media, responsible Republicans, Democrats and Independents to shine a light on his improper and illegal activities and the legal profession and Courts to stop them. Then on November 3rd it is up to us—voters who believe in democracy and the necessity to strive forward to achieve the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence—to vote and send this despicable individual to the dustbin of history.