The coronavirus pandemic is a win-win-win for Trump, particularly as disease and death rates disproportionately attack Democratic strongholds – urban areas, people of color, frontline workers driving buses and trains, manning grocery stores and delivery trucks working for minimum wage who Trump terms “losers,” volunteers at pantry kitchens, people already afflicted with medical issues largely because of unequal access to health care, people on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid who Trump portrays as parasites. Congress may be doling out trillions but will save billions when these people make an earlier than otherwise exit.
And those trillions? They are his personal, political war chest, to be used to extort support from desperate governors seeing their state budgets bankrupted and looking at having to layoff public (union) workers like teachers, police and public works, while the Biden supporters, desperate for enough money to pay for rent and food, will be unlikely to be able to fund the expensive TV commercials that COVID-era political campaigning will require.
And, the coronavirus pandemic shuts down campaigning for rivals even as Trump takes over what should be nonpolitical, nonpartisan, purely fact-based press briefings and turns them into campaign rallies, bashing opponents, critics, the press.
How he loves the ratings, better than finale of “The Bachelor” – from which to spread propaganda and lies while taking on the mantle of a leader, but one who rather than instilling confidence and trust, helping people over their anxieties, fears, sorrow and pain and unifying the nation to combat this “invisible enemy,” foments hatred, division, competition like a reality TV show. He dismisses how he deceives about the dangers of the disease calling himself a “cheerleader” but cheerleads protests, notably, against Democratic governors, undermining their ability to rally the civic support and sacrifice crucial to defeat the virus.
He scores big with his anti-government base (interestingly, they typically support states’ rights over federal).
But then he can blame governors for the economic devastation because they prolonged the shutdown; at the same time, if and when they do open the valve to economic activity and the COVID-19 numbers resurge, he can blame the governors who had the responsibility for making the decision to reopen. Win-win.
If forcing states to reopen prematurely causes an even more deadly second wave come the fall, well that’s a win-win, too – he expects that the next wave will again hit urban Democrats worse than rural Republicans.
Trump is using the pandemic crisis to push pet policies that are red meat for his base: immigration, EPA rollbacks, abortion.
At the same time, he has been doing everything possible to make sure there isn’t widespread testing –because it would show just how far and wide the disease has spread, when he insisted when there were 15 cases, he was in control, the number would soon be down to zero, and that the disease would go away, as if by magic, at the beginning of April when the weather got warmer.
The actual count of the coronavirus, he fears, would be a measure of his ineptitude, as if his failed leadership were not enough.
He gets to declare a national emergency, not to fight the disease but rather to evade oversight. He expects declaring himself a “wartime president” will get patriotic Americans to rally around, and enable him to tamp down criticism as unpatriotic.
Besides declaring he had “total authority” to force states to reopen on his say-so, now he has declared he has the power to “adjourn” both houses of Congress in order to make recess appointments. Trump no doubt is looking to the dictators he so admires – Putin of Russia, Viktor Orban of Hungary, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha of Thailand, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel – who have used the pandemic as an excuse to solidify power, jail journalists, and evade oversight – and plotting how he can do it here.
His eye is on the election. No doubt he is testing the waters to see if he can declare martial law and either cancel the election altogether, delay it and sow confusion, or use National Guard to intimidate people from voting, shutting polling sites and making the lines so long (already six and eight hours long), people can’t bear it, especially in urban areas (suburban areas rarely have lines).
Trump knows he only has to steal (win) a few battleground states – it doesn’t matter if he loses California, New York, Illinois by 20-80 and only gets 42 percent of the popular vote (the percentage he got in 2016), if he picks up three battleground states, he can (again) steal the Electoral College.
And that figures into his attacks on the U.S. Postal Service. Trump sees attacking the USPS as a win-win-win because not only does he get to undermine mail-in voting, in addition to forcing its collapse and privatization, he gets to attack his nemesis, Jeff Bezos who owns Amazon but also the Washington Post.
Finally, COVID-19 is a win for Trump because he gets to avoid any responsibility for the decline in the economy when he boasts he alone has produced the greatest economy in human history. The sudden, complete shutdown has, of course, resulted in levels of unemployment and lost GDP already approaching the Great Depression in only a matter of weeks, but Trump, whose sole claim for reelection hinged on the record unemployment and stock market (401Ks!), was looking at a softening in the historically-long economic expansion (thanks Obama!), constantly haranguing Fed Reserve Chair Jerome Powell for not lowering interest rates sufficient to give the economy an added goosing to get him to Election Day. Now he has the excuse of all excuses for the weak economy.
COVID-19 is a win-win-win for Trump who famously told supporters in 2016 they would win so much, they would get sick of winning.
(Yes, this is sarcasm.)