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 49: The People Without A Party

The national struggle to defeat Donald Trump in November is going forward amid an exodus from the Republican Party and a paradoxical crisis in the two-party system.  The paradox is that, even as the parties and their candidates raise more and more money and draw the battle lines between one another more sharply, they excite more animus and aversion in the population at large.  It’s hard to be mindful of the huge swath of the American population that is withdrawn and disenchanted, unaffiliated and uncertain, especially given the hype that keeps Democrats and Republicans ever before our eyes.

This hype inadvertently sustains Trump’s power, a president whose popularity ratings are shockingly low relative to every other modern president.  Trump’s “base”– the amoral and low-information voters who continue to approve of him–lacks the geographic spread to prevail.  Meanwhile, legions of prominent and rank-and-file Republicans have either left the party, gone silent, or endorsed Trump’s Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.

The pool of voters available to put Biden in the White House is unusually large.  Let’s remember this as we work to get out the vote against Trump.  Innumerable voters besides those who are Democrat want Trump to go.

The millions of people currently without a party are something like “a silent majority.”  They do not need to be convinced to join a party: they only need to be persuaded to vote once for Biden and, by ending Trump’s disastrous presidency, save what’s left of our Constitutional system.  For that matter, the Senate Republicans (with the exception of the noble Mitt Romney) have so failed in their duties to the Constitution and the nation that the voters must try to depose them, too.

Image: Albert Levering’s “Republican Voters Revolt” (1910),
from this source.

Day 53: The state of the race


There’s no sure-fire way to know the mind of the electorate, but this map from 270 to Win expresses where pollsters and other experts think the race for the White House is going, based on the information on hand now.

To win, Donald Trump will have to hold the states of Texas and Iowa and swing all the toss-up states (Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, and Arizona) into his column.  In addition, he must recapture pivotal northern states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania that he narrowly won last time but that are trending for Biden now.

Trump is a shrewd campaigner, but, as president, he has alienated and outraged so many Americans that it is hard to imagine him winning their votes.  He’s likely to do poorly anywhere with sizable minority communities.  The black population, in particular, is highly energized against Trump and eager to destroy him at the polls.  His predatory and retrograde treatment of women dooms him with this crucial demographic, too.  From day one, Trump has treated his political opponents as enemies, spoiling any hope now of making new “friends.”

Underneath Trump is a Republican party that is rotting away.  The compromises its leaders have made for Trump’s sake have driven thousands of reputable and influential followers away.  Hundreds of high-ranking Republicans have washed their hands of Trump, declared their support for Biden, and counseled rank-and-file voters to do the same.

This discord isn’t free-floating.  It’s playing out in states.  Former governors and legislators are actually working to defeat their own party’s leader.  Trump’s funding is drying up.  Many Republicans up for election are shaky.  As Trump continues to war against his own party’s establishment, he risks a victory that may doom him, too.

RELATED:
Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “Co-opt and Corrupt: How Trump Bent and Broke the GOP” (NYR)
Jacob Greber, “James and Kathryn Murdoch Become Some of Biggest Anti-Trump Donors(AFR).
“Trump’s August Fundraising Lags Biden’s By 150 Million” (NPR)


Image:
from this source.