Democrats, *Now Is Not The Time For Your Bipartisan Shit*
Some of you are probably worried about an ABC/Ipsos poll stating that 55 percent of Americans approve of how Donald Trump is managing the coronavirus pandemic. Who are these imbeciles, you might wonder? Pandora managed boxes better than Trump managed the coronavirus response. If it's any consolation, this poll looks like an outlier ... for now.
Americans during a crisis like to feel reassured. Trump goes on TV every day and mostly lies his ass off. He implies that miracle "Star Trek" cures are just around the corner. Yes, he's tanked the stock market during previous addresses to the nation, but it's not a given that Americans are holding him accountable for the "HOLY SHIT" news. This is why it's important that Democrats never let up on hammering him about his fatal incompetence. The stirring speeches Adam Schiff gave during the Senate impeachment trial should occur daily now.
This is tough for Democrats, who naturally want to focus on helping desperate Americans during a public health and economic crisis. They want to roll up their sleeves and "play it the bipartisan way." It's a whole thing with Democrats. After 9/11, they made a point of working with George W. Bush. They even gave him the benefit of the doubt when he suggested invading random countries. This is no time for petty political posturing. Attacking our self-proclaimed “wartime" president is unseemly. But if Democrats aren't aggressive, Trump — like Bush in 2004 — is going to coast to re-election. And that doesn't just hand our team a loss; IT KILLS EVERYONE.
Nancy Pelosi is admittedly busy trying to keep America afloat during all this, but it's vital that someone is countering Trump's BS and actively telling voters that Trump is an existential threat to their health and safety. Joe, Bernie, Elizabeth, Kamala, hell, even Chuck, get on the teevee. The election can't just be a referendum on the coronavirus. It has to be a referendum on how Trump's actions quite literally cost Americans their lives and livelihoods.
Democrats shouldn't repeat the mistakes of 2004. They believed they could hit Bush simply on how he was handling the Iraq War instead of attacking him for stupidly causing the war. Democrats were also timid about reminding voters that 9/11 occurred while Bush was president. Too many people acted as if that was rude rather than just a statement of fact.
We also shouldn't let Republicans off the hook, even those willing to send us big checks. Trump could've been removed from office in February. Mike Pence is no great shakes, but he might've used the month prior to the explosion of cases more productively. Trump's vanity and ego caused him to lie about the outbreak and even resist testing for it. Even if Pence wanted to do this, he didn't have what The Atlantic's Adam Serwer described as an "authoritarian cult of personality" echo chamber.
... Soon after the coronavirus outbreak emerged in China, the rest of the world began to regard it as a threat to public health, while Trump has seen it as a public-relations problem. Trump's primary method of dealing with public-relations problems is to exert the full force of the authoritarian cult of personality that surrounds him to deny that a problem even exists. This approach has paid political dividends for the Republican Party, in the form of judicial appointments, tax cuts for the wealthy, and a rapid erosion of the rule of law. But applied to the deadly pandemic now sweeping the planet, all it has done is exacerbate the inevitable public-health crisis, while leaving both the federal government and the entire swath of the country that hangs on his every word unprepared for the catastrophe now unfolding in the United States. The cardinal belief of Trumpism is that loyalty to Trump is loyalty to the country, and that equation leaves no room for the public interest.
Management of the pandemic was all about managing Trump's ego, even when he declared that his primary goal was to keep the number of positive tests low — not by isolating and containing the disease but just by refusing to test people. There's no evidence that Trump is going to suddenly stop being a sociopath because the shit's gotten real. He's more likely to become even more unhinged. If we can't remove him from office RIGHT NOW, then we should prioritize removing him from office in November. Ignoring his personality flaws because there's a national crisis we're all “facing together" misses the point that Trump's personality flaws are why there's a national crisis.
Republicans are already seizing the opportunity to demand that Democrats unilaterally disarm during the upcoming elections. Mitch McConnell doesn't want his likely Democratic opponent, Amy McGrath, to run negative ads against him, which would mean airing no ads that are honest. Democrats are trying to flip the Senate, and unlike 2018, incumbent Republicans are defending more seats. A Kumbaya election is to the GOP's advantage.
Note this video from Montana Sen. Steve Daines. He seemed especially vulnerable when Steve Bullock finally decided to run against him. Bullock was twice elected governor in very Republican state.
But Daines is actively connecting to his constituents during a crisis. If Bullock can't hit him, voters aren't going to ditch him.
We could at least leave the house and go to restaurants and movies when Republicans won in the past. We might not have those consolation prizes. So we need to play hard ball. Let's send some brass knuckles to Pelosi and Joe Biden.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).