Day 15: The No and the New

The only way to rid the nation of Trump is to vote for Biden. It’s a strategic fact driving millions of Democrats, independents, and Republicans to fill out the same bubble on their ballots, temporarily coalescing into a vast and powerful coalition. If they get their way, Joe Biden, perhaps the most underrated frontrunner in US history, will be the oldest person ever elected to the presidency. He is also one of the most knowing national politicians when it comes to our civic traditions, when it comes to the machinery of government and foreign affairs, and when it comes to the people on the Hill, who are the crucial players when it comes to deals.

Saying no to Trump is saying yes to Biden. Implicitly, the contest between the two is an opportunity to reject an “imperial presidency” in favor of a more balanced Constitutional government. Under Trump and his allies, the tripartite organism born of the Constitution has grossly atrophied. The federalism that holds the states and citizens together in one powerful conglomeration is now bitterly resented and railed against, as though the Proud Boys or Wolverine Watchmen or even Anonymous could build up something more viable and fairer in its place.

If Trump wins, what’s left of the republic will swiftly decline. If Biden wins, the republic will survive, but barely. For the scars of Trump’s wreckage to heal, the body politic will need much in the way of restoration and reform. “Build Back Better,” indeed. Forces at work in American society ordain that, if elected, Biden will preside over a political rehabilitation reshaping the economy, the presidency, Congress, and the parties. Paradoxically, then, one of the oldest members of the old political guard stands to authorize and usher in a dramatically new age.

Those who believe the federal experiment is worth continuing will vote for Biden. Blue voters believe that they can resolve the current crisis in a way that promotes Americans’ collective health, security, and prosperity. They believe that saying no to Trump is saying yes to a new and improved United States.

Image: “Condemned to Die” (1894),
from this source.

Illustration from Puck’s magazine shows reformers building a guillotine
for corrupt politicians condemned in the court of public opinion.

Day 21: The “Dangerous” Democrats

The backbone of Republican rhetoric is that Democrats are dangerous. Republicans claim the Democratic party is filled with people who are going to destroy what you depend on and take it away.  It is nearer to the truth to say that Democrats want to give more to ordinary Americans. They want to lift up ordinary citizens and commit government to their general well-being.  That is what makes Democrats so “dangerous.”

Republicans don’t want you to vote your interests.  They assail reasonable, equitable, policy goals as somehow subversive, un-American.  Too good to be true.

The Democrats want to give you something. The Republicans want to demonize that aspiration; they have been doing it for years, acting as though, in the richest nation on the planet, there isn’t enough to go around.  Republicans want you to believe in scarcity, in the hardship that will follow if the government tries to “lift all boats,” even as the tide has crested to record highs for the nation’s most wealthy.  Two days ago, the Federal Reserve released data showing that the wealth of the fifty richest Americans is roughly equal to that of half of the population.  That’s right: just fifty people have as much wealth as the poorest 165 million Americans, combined.

Republicans want you to believe that the Democrats’ more generous vision for America is dangerous.  They want you to believe that the US can’t afford to a system of universal health care, that it’s too much to hope for coverage that continues when you lose your job.  They want you to believe that efforts to ensure that you can see a doctor more easily and cheaply will harm you: that you will be harmed, your freedom destroyed, if American policy so much as ventures that way.

Republicans want you to believe the US can’t afford to have a thriving economy while mitigating climate change.  They want you to believe that protecting vital natural resources is going to leave you broke or unemployed.  Trump has rolled back every protection he can, adding pollutants to the water you drink and the air you breathe.  The truth is that going green will safeguard your community, your health and your property while creating a gravy train of new and socially meaningful jobs.

Trump is a master at demonizing the Democrats, repeating lies about Biden over and over again, such as that Biden wants to defund the police and get rid of fracking.  Trump groundlessly claims Biden’s recovery plans will destroy the economy, whereas Moody Analytics says that Biden’s plans are far superior to Trump’s, that they will promote a faster economic recovery while creating an estimated 7 million jobs.

So don’t believe the Republicans. Let yourself believe in a better, fairer, and more vibrant America.  Vote for the “dangerous Democrats.”  It’s better for America, and it’s better for you.

Image: “The Ring of Thanks”
from this source.

 

Day 29: Sicko

Hospitalized with a contagious disease, the president continued to behave recklessly.  Yesterday, he demanded that his Secret Service detail pile into a hermetically sealed car with him to parade him past a few well-wishers congregating outside.  Trump’s macho spree, which needlessly compromised his agents’ health, marked a nadir in his relations with Americans already disgusted and fed up with his grossly irresponsible, inconsiderate ways.

It is terribly demoralizing to realize that someone so ungoverned and ungovernable will be returning to the summit of American power. Last week, the New York Times’ expose of Trump’s finances showed cheating to be one of Trump’s lifelong passions, whereas Tuesday’s debate showed Trump to be deeply unreliable when truth and trust are needed most.  Trump is like a faithless husband to the US, his bride.  His love of lying and threats toward voters and other segments of the American population are abusive traits, which, in a marriage, no self-respecting spouse would tolerate.  Yet no one in America can rein in Donald Trump or call him to account.

As Trump returns to the White House from Walter Reed, the nation braces for the next episode of this excruciating charade.  Even though Biden is ahead in the polls, whether the US is on the verge of being rid of Donald Trump or Republican control of the Senate is still very uncertain.  The people in Trump’s administration, his allies in the Senate and elsewhere, donors and capitalists who support Trump for cynical reasons: their actions threaten America’s very being.  Today, I wonder whether the US can survive as a republic if they pull off a win.  In any event, it will take years of effort to build back better, to check the destructive forces that Trump has summoned.  American voters have the power, if only they will wield it, to stave off further disaster, so that reform can begin.

Day 31: The Empty Shell

What are your thoughts on hearing of the unexpected illness of a president who has pitted his fortunes against those of a majority of the American people? After flouting and dismissing measures known to protect the public against COVID’s spread, Trump has gotten the disease himself. He’s in the hospital and said to be doing well, but any outcome is possible. He could recover after just a slight case, or he could worsen; he could die.

Many in Trump’s Republican party mimicked his cavalier approach to the disease. Just as he became sick, so too have a passel of his Republican allies taken ill with COVIDat the same time: GOP party chair Ronna McDaniel; First Lady Melania Trump; Senators Thom Tillis (NC), Ron Johnson (WI), and Mike Lee (UT); Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s close aide Hope Hicks, his campaign manager Bill Stepien, and former Governor Chris Christie, who, with several others listed here, helped Trump prepare for last Tuesday’s debate.

The White House approach to COVID protocols was lax, leading to an outbreak that threatens the stability and security of the United States by sidelining, distracting, and disabling too many of its influential figures at once.

Yet one’s overall impression is how little any sick or healthy Republican cares. It doesn’t matter much to Republicans that the White House can’t do the work of the people, because that long ago vanished as top priority. The Republicans’ main focus since Trump tested positive has been on his suddenly changed situation and what it might mean for them. The party’s agenda consists of two main items: rushing Amy Coney Barrett onto the Supreme Court and making sure (by any means) that Trump wins re-election. No one cares whether Trump misses a few days of work at the White House, because, in all his tenure there, he’s avoided the chore of serving the people.

This has become clear as his schedule over the past week or so has been scrutinized for the bearing it might have on Washington’s contagion. Jetting around to campaign rallies, schmoozing at fund-raisers, preparing for the presidential debate, putting in a ghastly showing in it, and hosting a GOP love-fest for Amy Coney Barrett in the Rose Garden: such are the events that engross Trump most.

In the meantime, millions of Americans are out of work, running out of funds, and going hungry. Many are worried about losing their homes and access to medical care, even as winter comes on and the virus lingers and spreads. Businesses are folding, wildfires rage, and the bright possibilities of vibrant, solvent cities have evaporated. Cities like New York and Chicago, which represent some of the nation’s greatest concentrations of human and real capital, are barely holding together. Some vast piles of money that Congress set aside to help with these problems remain unspent or were spent improperly, attesting to Mr Trump’s ineptitude and indifference when he’s taxed with helping anyone but himself.

Under Donald Trump, the White House has become an empty shell. While he receives Cadillac treatment at Walter Reed, Americans can’t help but notice how little Trump and his ilk care about them.

Image: Currier & Ives print of the White House (1877),
from this source.

Day 32: Trump Tests Positive?

Written at 9:00am. Americans woke to the news that Donald and Melania Trump have both tested positive for COVID-19. We are told they are isolating at the White House. Their illness follows that of staffer Hope Hicks, whose positivity was being reported late last night. Given the president’s cavalier attitude toward protective measures and his persistence in bringing unmasked people together in numbers, it was perhaps only a matter of time before he contracted the disease. Ronna McDaniel, the head of the Republican National Committee, also tested positive for the virus on Wednesday.

The stock market is falling, pundits are jabbering, and speculations about the outlook for Trump and the US itself are multiplying. Trump could end up with a very mild case of COVID and recover quickly; he could get very sick and die. He could be afflicted in a way that makes it unclear whether he is capable of governing. It’s even possible his illness is fake news.

In the meantime, we are brushing up on the rules of presidential succession. Suddenly, vice-president Pence, who has tested negative, is in the spotlight. The vice president has the power to invoke the 25th amendment if need be. He would also become president for the remainder of Trump’s term should the latter die.

As for the election: Americans are casting their ballots, even as the consequences of Trump’s reckless inaction on COVID mount. Trump’s chances of scoring a clear honest victory over Biden were dim already. The president’s on-going efforts to subvert voting, his failure to condemn white supremacy during Tuesday’s debate, and his ever-louder claims that the election will be a hoax: these are fearful, desperate strategies. Most citizens are intent on ridding themselves of his hateful, un-American leadership. Regardless of Trump’s fate, this latest blow to national order will undoubtedly drive more voters toward Biden.

Even now, Twitter is awash with speculation over whether Trump is really sick or using illness as a gambit to stay in power. If a takeover is afoot, Americans must do all they can to stay ahead of the curve. Never has a president been less trusted.

The nation could be in great danger.


At 5:35 pm. The president has left the White House for Walter Reed Hospital. He reportedly received an antibody cocktail from Regeneron (the CEO is an old friend) earlier in the day. The drug is not yet FDA-approved. The company’s stock began trending higher in after-hours trading.

CNN is reporting that the White House knew by yesterday morning that Hicks had tested positive, yet the president flew off for a fundraiser with a hundred people in New Jersey, and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany held a briefing that afternoon without disclosing the facts to those present or herself wearing a mask. It is being reported that the president delayed making his test results public for several hours last night, in order to first notify other Republican officials. He finally tweeted about having COVID at 1am this morning.