Is Donald Trump deliberately and consciously allowing COVID-19 to return in force? Could this be part of a deranged strategy to sow so much chaos in the country that he will then be able to make a case that elections can’t be held, or that if they are, they’re illegitimate? Could he have in his warped and sick mind a plan for what can only be called a coup? Is there any possibility that he could succeed?
These are the questions that I’ve begun to seriously consider as the pandemic curve has literally reversed course over the last month or so, from a flattening to, now, an alarming upwards curve back towards and probably above the previous high point back in April.
Remember, Trump’s most avid and violent supporters, in mid-April, started demonstrating, sometimes with automatic weapons and other guns, for an end to the pandemic lockdown and “freedom” for anyone to go anywhere and do anything he or she wanted. Trump explicitly and openly supported them, ludicrously calling them freedom fighters.
About a month later, a month ago, he stopped having his daily briefings on the pandemic, denying the opportunity for Dr. Fauci and others to speak publicly from the White House in front of the mass media urging appropriate action.
A few days ago he tried to stage a massive kickoff to his re-election campaign, a planned overflow rally in Tulsa, in the heart of “Trump country,” despite a surge in COVID-19 cases in that area. It was a big flop, but that didn’t stop deranged Trump during his speech from agitating for the same racist, regressive and ridiculous positions that he did in 2016 and that he’s done all throughout his Presidency. He doubled down. He spoke as if the pandemic was inconsequential, a thing on its way out. His fascist rhetoric was there for all to see.
Here’s what could be going through his mind:
“This pandemic is messing everything up. My beautiful economy has been devastated by it. And everyone is making it such a big deal. So what if hundreds of thousands of Americans die? Most of those dying are either institutionalized old people or black, brown and red people. Very few of my supporters in the rural and mainly white outer suburbs are being affected. So I need to play to my strengths, which are bringing back my wonderful economy and my toughness when it comes to those bad, bad hombres from Mexico and Central America trying to illegally cross our wonderful border, those untrustworthy Muslims from anywhere in the world, the anarchists and antifa’s and communists. I need to rile up my millions of followers, bring them to my rallies, keep them stirred up and active. I need some of them to get out there mixing it up with those bad, bad N____ Lives Don’t Matter rioters and looters who are setting fires and destroying buildings and tearing down statues of true American patriots who stood up for the rights of white people. I need to paint anyone demonstrating as a looter and arsonist, which they might as well be since they’re against me. This will scare some of those liberals and socialists who are never going to support me anyway. They need to feel like it is hopeless to take me on because I’ve got my Trump army of true believers, and they’ll never put us down. That’ll keep some of them away from the polls.
“The polls! I need to do everything I can to make voting by mail be seen as an un-American, communist plot. We Republicans can’t win if everyone can vote by mail, so it’s un-American! I need to motivate my people to do everything they can to make it hard for black and brown people to vote, mess up the election system so that no matter what happens on election day, I can claim that it was all chaos and a mess and that I have no choice but to step in and preserve law and order. Maybe things will get so crazy in the fall that I can step in and cancel the elections in the interest of national calm and national security. Sure, the radical left Democrats will scream and demonstrate and take me to court, but as long as I’ve got my people awoke and stirred up and active, they won’t have the balls to take us all on.
“My base. It’s all about my base. They might not be a majority of the voters, but they already showed in April and May the impact they can have when they’re out in the streets, armed and angry. Working with me, we’re bringing the economy back. I just need to distract people from the rising pandemic death toll, get them to see that it’s not really the big deal the fake news is making it out to be. That’s the way I’ll stay in power. They’ll never beat me!!”
As far out as this is, I believe it is not far out when it comes to Sicko Trump. And he’s not alone on the Republican side.
So what does this mean as far as what progressives should be doing to retire Trump and decisively set back the Trumpublicans?
I think that many of us are already doing the main right things—mobilizing progressive and other non-reactionary voters to be registered and to vote, publicly demonstrating in nonviolent ways in support of Black Lives Matter and other major issues, and supporting the efforts to prevent voter suppression of people of color, students and others.
Some of us can be out there in areas of the country where there are a lot of Trump voters doing what we can to undercut pro-Trump fanaticism and get more and more of them to see that even if they’re conservatives, Trump is just way beyond the pale. That understanding is already growing based on recent polling.
This is critical work right now and should be supported. To the extent it is successful, it can lead to a decrease in the right-wing-fanatic energy Trump is trying to stir up, smaller numbers at Trumpublican rallies, and a decrease in the turnout of his base on November 3. This is very strategic, if difficult and sometimes risky, work.
And there is one more thing that is needed: political smarts when it comes to the tactics being used during progressive street demonstrations. It is to Trump’s benefit for them to be seen as violent, against all police, and extreme.
Overwhelmingly, the Black Lives Matter demonstrations have been politically smart. The vast majority of them have been consciously nonviolent. There are instances, maybe a lot of them, where people demonstrating have taken it upon themselves to stop those in our ranks who, for whatever reason, some of them tactical differences and some of them very nefarious, have tried to break windows, attack property or otherwise engage in actions that can be used by Trump and others to undercut support for our movement’s just demands. It is essential, urgently essential, that these self-policing actions on our part continue.
Everything is at stake right now. What we on the Left in the USA do over the next 130 days will be decisive for not just the country but for our deeply wounded world. Everything is at stake right now, and we need to act accordingly.
Ted Glick is the author of the just published Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick.