Exposed by his own actions, the man who turns everything into a referendum on himself has given Americans another clear choice. He has shown that what we have to lose is our lives and that the choice really is between him or us. Now we will have to decide whether we will all join Team America and hand over their deserts to the stalker.
Trump's biggest current problem is his epic failure to tackle a pandemic that has killed more than 125,000 Americans. To borrow a phrase from the president, the coronavirus is furious, "like no one else has seen it before." In response, the brigade governors denying Trump's danger are investing to combat the pandemic. Masks are now appearing in the Trump country, where more and more people want stronger public health efforts.
Where is Trump in the pandemic? Well, after selling hydroxychloroquine, a drug that proved futile, framing an abysmal federal response as a success and refusing to appear in public with a face mask, he stopped talking about it. However, he showed us where he is by conducting a reckless indoor rally where, to demonstrate their loyalty, many chose to forgo the masks. Most recently, he sent his lead entertainer, Vice President Mike Pence, to a press conference where he lied and said, "We slowed the spread. We smashed the curve."
Pence showed the limits of this commitment when, one day after the press conference, he recognized the danger of the pandemic by canceling the campaign events. With this move, it seemed to echo the decisions made by those who stayed home after the Trump rally in Tulsa. The president had predicted that 40,000 would arrive, but according to a fire chief's estimate there were only 6,200, which disappointed Trump so much that he apparently began to consider his reelection candidacy in trouble.
Trump's problems include not only the pandemic, but the rise in unemployment and the concurrent contraction of the general economy caused by it. In general, the pandemic has caused economic problems wherever it has hit, as public health policies that remain at home accelerated activity. However, in the US, the absence of an effective national response exacerbated the spread of the infection and exacerbated its economic effects. In this way, Trump's public health failure robbed him of the opportunity to make economic progress the centerpiece of his reelection campaign.
The third problem that paralyzes Trump, race relations and surveillance, offers another example of how the President's instinct to turn everything into a fight has hurt him. With Americans taking to the streets to declare Black Lives Matter and to protest police killings of black suspects, the President went against the grain to repeatedly call for "law and order" and to suggest that he is backed by a "silent majority." In addition to this rhetoric, Trump deployed federal officials to demonstrate that he could act harshly while speaking.
Although much of the nation backed off when peaceful protesters were forcibly expelled from Lafayette Square in Washington DC to allow Trump to walk to a photo shoot at a nearby church, he kept to his practice of doubling down on every position. More recently, he has added the defense of statutes honoring racist and Confederate traitors to the mix, declaring his commitment to uphold "our heritage."
Every situation that affects the president now, the pandemic, the economy, race relations, challenges his reflex of struggle. In the past, he was able to use deviations from American standards to force others to make difficult decisions. In politics he insulted respected opponents like John McCain and Hillary Clinton. As president he befriended dictators and strongmen while mistreating his allies.
The Republicans who joined him became so close to him that they remained loyal through the many scandals that have seen his associates convicted of serious crimes and an impeachment trial where he was saved by Republican senators after the majority leader Senate President Mitch McConnell announced in advance that he would not be convicted.
Whenever it seemed that Trump had gone too far, his supporters kept the faith. But now we have come to a place where binary options will not work. The coronavirus kills regardless of personality or politics and demands a nuanced response from a careful mind. The same is true for the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. And this moment in American racial history requires the heart and soul of a brave unifier, not the instinct of the man who once told me, "I always loved to fight. All kinds of fights, including physical ones."
With his limited mind, poor heart, and empty soul on display, Trump is discovering that a man who declares "I can only fix it" runs the risk of being blamed when everything breaks. That's why his 2016 campaign assistant Sam Nunberg says Trump risks one of the worst defeats in history, and political television host Joe Scarborough speculates on Trump's resignation. Trump is "acting like he doesn't want to be reelected," says Scarborough. "He is acting like he really wants to lose a lot and defeat the Republican Party."