Panic in the Oval

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

From the polls, national and local, it is clear that Trump is in deep trouble, but the clearest sign is his statement that the Presidential Election needs to be postponed because it promises to become the most unreliable election in the history of the country. The president’s hypocrisy would be amusing if it wasn’t so serious, because in many states that until now were Republican-dominated administrations have made voter suppression a local past-time, reducing the opportunity to vote for low income voters by locating the few polls far from their residences, disenfranchising felons who have paid their dues to society and insisting on in-person voting, only to mention some of the shenanigans. If there is one way to reduce voter turnout it is the latter in a time of a deadly pandemic, and in that context Trump’s ranting about voting by mail because he claims it is a very fraudulent process, which has never been shown to be the case, is no less than criminal. The good news is that the president has nothing to say about the election, because the date is fixed by the US Constitution and can only be changed by an amendment.

In the meantime Trump’s campaign is still on multiple tracks. He tries to show that he’s taking charge of controlling the COVID pandemic by sending Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci to what he calls ‘embers’ in the country that could flare up, although it’s unclear what they can do there while their services are much more needed in DC, which makes this a typical part of Trump’s permanent reality show. Meanwhile the testing is still a mess, with in some parts of the country a wait time of ten days or longer before results come back, so that tracing of those who have been in contact with someone who is infected is impossible. Knowing that the pandemic won’t be over and the economy won’t be recovered by election time the president’s second track is running a ‘law and order’ campaign like Nixon ran in 1986, but Nixon had plenty of demonstrators in the streets and Trump knows that he needs that too. His first step was sending federal agents to Portland, allegedly to protect federal property but in reality to provoke violence from BLM demonstrators, some of whom were illegally arrested by Trump’s goons.

Federal agents are only allowed to operate in cities at the request of the authorities or to protect federal property, but in Portland they have not shown much respect for the rules. If and when they show up in other cities they’ll have to stay close to federal buildings, otherwise their agency will be sued. Meanwhile the president is sowing fear for ‘anarchist terror’ by trying to panic ‘suburban housewives,’ a part of the electorate he is about to lose of which the majority definitely doesn’t want to be addressed that way.

So far Trump has only threatened to send his Feds to cities like Chicago and New York, but as the COVID pandemic keeps raging he’ll be more and more tempted to do so, in spite of legal repercussions. Tim Snyder identifies in his book ‘On Tyranny’ the mingling of federal and local police forces as a clear sign of totalitarianism, and we’re almost there. The fact that Trump won’t say that he’ll step down if he loses the election completes the picture.

Typical Trump was his brusk refusal to pay his respect to John Lewis, who was laying in state in the Capitol, and maybe even more his announcement that he would throw out the first pitch at the Yankees home opener. He was clearly jealous of Dr. Fauci, who threw out the first pitch at the Nationals game, but unfortunately he had to cancel because he was not invited.

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