There have been many insane things that the President has said and done throughout his term, but they have always had someone else to blame for his mistakes. There has always been a way to skew the scenario, be it on Obama or the Democrats or the Chinese. The coronavirus outbreak is the perfect little anecdotal example of how Trump’s spin has been working throughout his presidency. Everything he has said is the same form since he started running, the same techniques. This time, the content is different and it shows that he is just all talk.
Trump is and will always use the totalitarian playbook outlined by Arendt and made popular by Stalin and Hitler. One part of this that the totalitarian depends on is the isolated and atomized masses. A lot of his support comes from the fact that his base has historically been apolitical, isolated from the whole of society, never belonging to any smaller political organizations. Another part is that he is able to create a fake reality. Once you create this fake reality, you can pretty much get away with anything you want. You can say the economy is great, it even almost looks great at a surface level. You can get away with using the office of the president for your own private gain. You can get away with coercing other states for political reasons. This is all things you can do once you have bought the masses into believing in your fake reality.
The question someone has then is how does this fake reality get shattered? Is it by looking at the wealth gap in America? Is it looking at how no one can afford healthcare or housing anymore? Is it by looking at all the farms that are closing, truck drivers lives who have gotten worse, coal jobs disappearing, or the manufacturing jobs moving away still? No, you can still spin these. There are still dairy and soy farmers that will vote for Trump in 2020 despite him destroying their livelihood. This is where I think the coronavirus might be able to make people see through the fake reality.
Trump’s bread and butter for this presidency has just been tax cuts. It is the only thing that he could garner a majority for since a lot of establishment republicans would not back his other insane plans. Of note is John McCain who voted “thumbs down” against repealing Obamacare, the most cloutful move in the history of politics. McCain realized that it was not just repealing Obamacare, it would have been a full assault on the United States government by a wanna-be-dictator.
Republicans have been doing the fuck-it-and-chuck-it strategy for pretty much anything they can get their hands on. They will take some legislation, put in some way to make sure it fails due to fundamental damages (lack of funding, lack of accountability, etc), then when it sucks down the road, they want to privatize it. Instead of actually privatizing it however, they will allow some corporation(s) to garner a monopoly or oligopoly over this by cementing it in legislation.
Another strategy is just to flat out destroy any public institutions. You want to make people hate our public institutions, you want them to fail, this makes it easy to slew rhetoric and pass legislation in favor of the wealthy. When someone wants to change or reform some part of the government, or allow government oversight in some way, the public may be on board with everything about it (when you actually explain Medicare-for-All to them), but they will still respond with something along the lines of “I just don’t think the government can do it” or “I don’t trust the government”. This is perfect because it is the last line of defense before getting some legislation passed that will hurt the wealthy people.
Trump has taken this a step further and almost eroding trust in all institutions. The media has never been seen as more political and less trustworthy. Congress, corporations, celebrities, allied nations, IRS, you name it. Even the CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL, one of the world’s most respect institutions and yes, Trump has gutted that too. Trump may have had an easier time building his fake reality if he never touched this and the coronavirus never happened, but this is precisely what the Republicans rely on. They rely on things never happening so they can profit in the short term. Not having strong public and social institutions is good for them, but it hurts us all in the long run and during emergencies.
America is usually seen as the leader in most things. You watch movies and anytime there is an outbreak the CDC is on the scene immediately. Countries around the world used to look at us for how to properly handle these emergencies and for help as well. This is one area, possible pandemics, that show us the need for strong states and strong international realtions. The response needs to be swift, people need to trust their leader, and we need to prevent it from getting worse.
Everything about this is the opposite of what Trump has done. Take healthcare for example. Bernie realizes how bad the current system is right now, how it hurts us long term, and that preventive healthcare is the better route to go in all aspects. It makes sense to stop things from getting bad in the first place. Trump, since he does not want to burst his fake reality himself, is trying to make the virus spread not look as bad as it is. Instead of making us trust him and the government response, we look closer to how China responds to the virus than say Vietnam.
Gov. Inslee of Washington has criticized, rightfully, the president’s horrible leadership right now. Instead of acknowledging the complaints of Inslee, whether or not they are accurate or not, our stable genius leader just used an ad hominen, attacked him personally, instead of saying everything is going well or we are handling it.
The US response to testing for the virus is horrible. Other nations like South Korea have reacted swifty and promptly to data about the coronavirus in an attempt to contain it. Trump was directly lying to the public about the state of our coronavirus testing. Azar was saying that we will have more tests coming depending on the quality control testing of the kits. However, Trump decides to cut him off to say
But I think, importantly, anybody, right now and yesterday, that needs a test gets a test. They’re there, they have the tests, and the tests are beautiful. Anybody that needs a test gets a test.
Which is just FALSE! Even Pence said that the US did not have enough kits to meet demand, Trump is the only one contradicting literally everyone, when he should be the one leading the way with the truth. In California, the first US resident with coronavirus had to wait 4 days to get a kit. NY Governor Cuomo knows that Trump is unreliable, and has decided on trying to handle their own state themselves. Additionally, no one knows how many tests we actually have on hand since Trump’s people cannot get their numbers correct. The Atlantic estimates that we only have tested about 1,895 people for coronavirus so far. This is appalling given that South Korea is testing 10,000 people a day in a vastly smaller country. No one knows how deadly or how widespread the infections can be because we do not have reliable data on what we are facing now and what we can expect to have help from in the future.
There is that cruise ship off the Californian coast as well with 3,500 people on board with a possible infection. For now, Trump has decided that they want to keep the people on the ship, which is what Japan did and it ended up horribly. The Trump administation does not want to count these 3,500 people as possible infections for the US since it would mean “Trump’s numbers” are going to go up which is bad for him.
During this CDC press conference, the president transitions back to talking about the tests. In his incoherent ramblings he says
The tests are all perfect, like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect. This is not as perfect as that, but pretty good.
The tests and past political mistakes have nothing to do with each other! However, this is what he has done forever. By comparing one thing to another, he is trying to signal to his base that it is just partisan warfare trying to attack him. He cannot call the coronavirus itself anything since it is not a person though, he still might call it a witch hunt.
Trump is saying that A = B = C here right. However, if A is not perfect, that means B is not perfect, and also means C is not perfect! Or it means that A is not perfect and B and C are perfect, which means Trump is lying about either all or just the tests. Either way, he is lying! Someone who lies about one thing, like a pandemic, has no moral qualms about lying about anything else it would seem, the problem with having a morally evil person as president!
Even more insane later on was when he is talking about ihs uncle, who worked at MIT in the 30s. He says that this makes him an expert for science, such as climate change and possibly even having a genetic predisposition to being good at science. He even lies about doctors telling him he has a natural ability at this and he should have done it instead of running for president. My dad and brother are great at working with cars, but it is idiotic of me to say that I am too, I do not even know what a spark plug or a carborator are, but this is essentially what Trump is saying!
Back to the Maga and establishment republicans bit, Trump has brought this upon himself. He has been cutting public funding for science and trying to do it forever. When he took office, public health officials warned that if America was to face a disease outbreak, like Ebola, Trump would be awful to lead the charge given his character and history. Even worse, he has “vastly cut back efforts to fight disease outbreaks internationally”.
Other nations have been handling this on their own and they do not expect any help from the US anymore. Trump touted the threat of China as the people gunning for our seat at world superpower. However, Trump has done more than China could dream of to make our allies trust us and ever want to work with us. It is telling that the problems we have in America, of mega rich people controlling things, might be just what we have on the international stage. Besides our vast wealth relative to other nations, it might be all we have anymore.
This response Trump has had with Coronavirus is just one case that people have been noticing as a long line of bullshit from the Trump adminstration and himself. This is the same strategy, the same form, that he has done with every other political scandal. It is what he did with Iran, impeachment, you name it. Even some of the politicians we hated the most in the past would not have sunk this low in lying about things, not in a situation like this.
Trump did not have to face his own pearl harbor, his own 9/11, a great depression, a great recession, civil war, civil rights, or anything. The greatest threat he has had to face is showing leadership and forward thinking. When are not facing a crisis, we should be looking at the future. We should be preparing for future crises. Be it the economy, wealth, war, disease, healthcare, constitutional, you name it. The coronavirus is just one clear example that is not politicized that he cannot blame anyone else for. For me, his response is unsurprising, it is how he has handled his whole presidency. If it gets worse, it might be enough to burst his bubble of fake reality and make people wake up to his lies.
When we sacrifice the truth for “winning”, we all lose everything.