WASHINGTON—In his desperate efforts to stay in office, and to even avoid prosecution if he is no longer president, Donald J. Trump is literally dismantling the United States, brick, by brick, agency by agency, using the coronavirus pandemic as a cover, while doing little or nothing to marshal federal resources to battle the disease.
In an effort to suppress potential votes against him and to throw the election itself into chaos, Mr. Trump first dismantled the U.S. Postal Service, while selectively attacking voting by mail. He went to court to block mail-in voting in Nevada, while he defended the process in Florida, where he hopes elderly conservatives will vote by mail for him.
In order to cripple voting by mail, his new Postmaster General—Louis DeJoy a major GOP donor and supporter of the president—has upended the Postal Service, ordering delays in mail delivery in the guise of cost-cutting, just as Congressional Democrats called for investigations into Mr. DeJoy’s conduct.
Late Friday evening, Aug. 6, Mr. DeJoy issued a sweeping overhaul of the agency, including the ouster of top executives from key posts and the reshuffling of more than two dozen other officials and operational managers. Democrats and government watchdogs called the action a “Friday Night Massacre.”
Mr. Trump’s attack on voting by mail has several fronts: his attempt to slow down mail service in a targeted manner; then insisting that only ballots counted on Election Day, Nov. 3 are valid, putting the votes of Covid-19-wary in-person voters at risk; casting doubt on the entire election if he does not win; and then to engineer a scenario in which the president can pressure Republican-controlled legislatures to ignore the popular vote in their Democratic-leaning swing states, such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin which he won in 2016, but where he trails Democrat Joe Biden this year, instead selecting an Electoral College slate that supports Mr. Trump in those states.
In a blatant appeal to White suburban voters, Mr. Trump—who was himself sued by the federal government for housing discrimination in the 1970s—announced that he had repealed an Obama-era fair housing rule in order to keep non-Whites out of the suburbs. “I am happy to inform all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood,” the president said via Twitter July 30. “… Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down. I have rescinded the Obama-Biden AFFH Rule. Enjoy!” His comments echo throughout the Republican Party as people like Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) claim that the Democratic Party is anti-White.
And in a maneuver to avoid a compromise with Democrats in Congress over a comprehensive pandemic relief package Mr. Trump issued a series of executive orders Aug. 5, temporarily cutting the payroll tax—the dedicated source of funding Social Security—and dubiously promising a limited amount of federal unemployment relief payments.
At a press conference at his New Jersey golf resort Aug. 6, Mr. Trump promised to “terminate” all FICA payroll tax deductions if he is reelected, effectively eviscerating the Social Security system.
“Donald Trump once promised that he would be ‘the only Republican that doesn’t want to cut Social Security.’ We now know that what he meant is that cutting Social Security doesn’t go far enough for him: He wants to destroy Social Security,” said Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works, in a statement responding to Mr. Trump’s press conference.
This all boils down to appealing for White support for his reelection. Roughly 50 percent of White voters would vote to re-elect the president if the election were held in early August, according to a new poll reported by Newsweek. Overall, the poll found that 43 percent of voters would choose Mr. Biden in a present-day matchup whereas 40 would choose Mr. Trump. In that mid-July poll by Hill-HarrisX, Mr. Biden had a 7-point national lead over Mr. Trump.
“The thing is, we’re at where the trends are very bad,” Dr. Clarence Lusane, professor of Political Science at Howard University said in an interview. “Not because of a single kind of poll, but look at the variables from the state of the economy, how people are feeling about that.
“So, the path to victory, I feel is very narrow for Donald Trump, where the path for (Joe) Biden has actually opened up. And that’s because there are states that are now in play that were not necessarily in play in 2016,” he continued.
“If you look at Texas, look at Georgia; if you look at Arizona, look at North Carolina, and you look at the elections that have taken place in 2018, since 2016, the turn-out of those elections are signaling that there has been a move away from the Republican Party and away from Trump. So, the current trend does not look good for the president.
“The fact that he’s the president gives Donald Trump some leverage to mess with the election whether it’s affecting the Post Office, given the need for voting by mail in this election or other kinds of voter suppression strategies, all of that’s going to come into play,” said Dr. Lusane.
But Mr. Trump’s supporters don’t measure his success by what he does for them, and some may be reluctant to honestly answer poll takers. They measure him by what he does against people they don’t like some observers argue. That’s why they see him as being “successful,” and even as a “Christian.”
Their sometimes-violent opposition to requirements to wear face masks to slow the spread of the coronavirus; their angry insistence on re-opening schools, businesses and the economy are examples of how Mr. Trump’s supporters are sometimes irrational in their views, even when it comes at their own expense.
Mr. Trump is purported to be a “billionaire” who hides his tax returns. He claims that he is a “genius,” yet he hides his college grades. He is a big businessman, yet he bankrupted three casinos and lost more than $1 billion in 10 years. He boasts of being a “playboy” and beauty contest owner, yet he has paid multiple women for sex. He boasts of his philanthropy, but was ruled against in court for defrauding his own charity. He calls himself a “patriot,” yet he avoided the draft five times during the Vietnam War era. And, he claims to be a “Christian,” yet he can barely quote any scriptures and his only visit to a church this year was for a photo-op outside the church just one block from the White House, where the bishop there said he was not welcome.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) declared the president to be “the biggest failure practically in the history of our country,” according to Real Clear Politics. “Well, let me say this president has been the biggest failure practically in the history of our country,” Mrs. Pelosi said.
“A pandemic that is rolling, ‘Trump virus’ I call it, is rolling like a freight train. It took nearly 100 days, just about 100 days to get the first one million. Just under 50 days to get to the second million. Just over 25 days to get to the third million and now, just, what, 14, 17 days to get to the 4 million mark of people infected. Just think if he had thought that these ‘overrated’ tests weren’t overrated a long time ago, how many lives could have been saved.”
Anthropologist Wade Davis, who holds the Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at the University of British Columbia agrees. He wrote in Rolling Stone of “The unraveling of America.” on how Covid-19 signals the end of the “American era.”
“The COVID crisis has reduced to tatters the idea of American exceptionalism,” Professor Davis wrote. In light of these developments, Dr. Lusane has a warning. “We have to be vigilant. I think that we have a desperate president. His losing has consequences beyond his being out of office.
“He will likely be indicted in New York and he will lose (some) business. So, I think we will see every trick in the book plus a couple of new books coming from this president. I think there should be no complacency that Trump is going to lose easily or certainly not in any way that he’s going to accept it,” said Dr. Lusane.