Just as I said the week he was elected, Trump is the Bizarro Carter.
Analysts who think we’re too dumb to open a history book keep harping on how Trump reverses every Obama action. But the contrasts with Carter ring even more true, because they’re so stark, and make the future so clear.
Carter was the last exemplar of what I called the FDR Theory of Unity. It was something he used to fight the Depression and World War II. Democrats kept running on it for the next generation.
Trump is the ultimate expression of the Nixon Thesis of Conflict. There was the friendly side in politics, and there were the enemies. Over time Republicans, to maintain internal unity, defined more-and-more people as enemies. Today it’s anyone who defies Trump, by word or deed, in even the smallest way. He acts like the Sun God, but he’s more like the later Mao Zedong, the one who spawned the Cultural Revolution.
The Nixon Thesis killed a lot of people. It was used to justify a generation’s wars for oil, transforming the Cradle of Civilization into a charnel house. This is fine with Trumpublicans, who don’t see pain felt by others as meaningful.
But as Mel Brooks said, “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall in a sewer and die.” A lot of Trumpublicans are about to cut their fingers, and worse, on the altar of Trump’s stupidity.
Say what you will about how China handled the virus. They got it under control. Once they became convinced of the reality, they took extreme measures, poured in immense resources, and within a month the number of cases was dropping.
That’s not how it’s going to go here. Trump sealed his fate by getting rid of the CDC’s Pandemic Response Teams . He also cut funding for pandemic response substantially.
The result was there weren’t even testing kits available when the virus struck. This is a germ with an incubation period that may be 2 weeks or longer. That means if you want to keep people from spreading it, you must keep them isolated for that length of time. From a human rights perspective, this is terrible. But, apparently, it works.
As of early March, dozens of people had been brought into the U.S., infected with the virus, and allowed to go on about their business. This was due to the cost of testing kits, and a shortage of kits, for which providers were charging thousands of dollars. There may be thousands of infected people who are now asymptomatic carriers of the disease. They’re infecting more people.
Then there’s the fact that a lot of people are going to get this virus who can’t afford to get sick. They can’t afford treatment, or they can’t afford to stay home from work, or both. That’s a lot of carriers.
Finally, there’s no cure for this. There are people working hard on cures. There are people working hard on vaccines. But human tests will take a year, even for the best candidates. This crisis will extend beyond Trump’s current term of office.
The only question is how fast the shit will hit the fan, and how badly Trump will fan those flames when they hit. Experience suggests it’s going to be very, very bad. He needs to either put professionals on the case or have professionals seize control from him. This is technically possible, if Republicans see what’s coming and revolt in the name of saving lives. But what does that do to his authority?
China’s economy fell off a cliff during the worst of the virus scare in February. It wasn’t because everyone was sick. It was because the government made them stay home. The American economy is now poised to roll over as people get sick. There’s a big difference between those two conditions.
China may show no growth, even negative growth, for the first quarter, but by the end of the year it will come roaring back. The U.S. will have a full-blown recession, one that climaxes just as people go to the polls after coming back from funerals.
There’s a myth of Trump invincibility. There’s this idea that his people are always with him, that nothing can shake them. That is true. But his people have never been a majority, or anything like it. Old Trumpers have been dying for three years, new non-Trumpers have been entering the voting population. His approval rating has ranged from 40-46%, an average of 43. You can’t win an election that way. Not a free election, anyway.
As this virus hits, the appetite of local Republicans to steal elections for Trump is going to decline. Maybe by a little, maybe by a lot. But it will decline. And a few Republicans who claim they like Trump will quietly walk away. I suspect that’s already happening in the Mormon belt of Utah, Idaho and Arizona. This political virus is going to spread, although most won’t tell pollsters. Some won’t even tell their families.
If you and I can live through November we’re going to see some changes.