When Donald Trump gave his inaugural speech to a poorly attended crowd in January 2017, he spoke of ending “the American carnage”.
Carnage isn’t a strong enough word for the three-pronged crisis the country now faces.
The Covid pandemic rages — 150,000 deaths and rising. Expect half a million virus fatalities come election time in November.
Trump’s behaviour continues to make a dreadful situation far worse as he undermines the advice of his own public health experts and continues to promote quack remedies, disinformation, and conspiracy theories.
Trump no longer recommends swallowing disinfectant, but continues to hype hydroxychloroquine. He has also retweeted dangerous nonsense from one Stella Immanuel trashing face masks.
Trump failed to mention that this “very respected doctor” also believes gynaecological disorders are caused by “demon sperm” from mythological creatures! Satirists were quick to quip about demon sperm when Donald Trump Jr was banned from Twitter for also posting the quack nonsense.
At the same time, the economy is tanking and social security relief is woefully inadequate. 30 million Americans are on the dole. Homelessness threatens many.
Racial injustice, police brutality
If Trump couldn’t be expected to do anything positive about the pandemic and the economic meltdown, then what about the mass protests over racial injustice and police brutality? He saw an opportunity not to address the problem, but to turn it into a “law and order” issue. The “little green men” began appearing on the streets of Portland, Oregon, to grab protesters off the streets and whisk them away in unmarked vehicles.
The term “little green men” derives from Putin’s deployment of unknown paramilitary forces in the Ukraine. Trump’s variant has been to use the highly militarised Border Patrol, whose members falsely believe they are allowed to operate beyond normal constitutional constraints.
The deployment in Portland of what’s been dubbed Trump’s praetorian guard was totally out of proportion to dealing with a bit of graffiti-spraying and the throwing of a few firecrackers.
Trump hoped that their deployment would produced good footage for Fox News, but the resulting images of these robocops tear-gassing moms and war veterans were not what he wanted. The protesters were not black or young enough to exploit in dog-whistle terms, so the “little green men” have been stood down for now.
If opinion polls are anything to go by, the American public want to cancel a second season of the dystopian reality TV show that is the Trump presidency. Yet Trump, semi-literate racist and con-man that he is, has lied and cheated throughout his entire life and has no intention of stopping now. Short of engineering a foreign military confrontation within the next three months, his main strategy seems to be to rely upon on voter suppression.
Trump has floated the unprecedented suggestion that the Presidential election be postponed on the grounds that mail-in ballots (boosted by the pandemic) will be “fraudulent” — a claim for which there is not a shred of evidence.
The Republican Party has got voter suppression down to a fine art and will no doubt continue depriving people of the vote through purging electoral registers, or physically making it difficult to vote in person. This new attack on mail-in votes is not unconnected with the administration’s attack on the US postal service.
Trump put one of his millionaire backers, Louis DeJoy, in charge of the USPS, with a mandate for running it down and privatising it, and introducing “cost cutting” measures such as banning overtime and shutting down sorting machines. Messing with the US mail in this way is bound to cause delays in the delivery of postal votes.
Trump hopes that if these delays occur, legislatures in some Republican-controlled states will declare him the victor before a substantial number of mail-in ballots are in.
A major campaign against voter suppression needs to be conducted.
If socialists campaign against voter suppression, they would look ridiculous if they advocated abstaining. Some socialists will vote for Biden, others for the socialist Howie Hawkins, who presents a far more left-wing political programme but has no chance of winning.
A debate around this issue is in progress on the US left. Let’s hope we don’t get a Trump victory which forces another one like it in 2024.