What If Trump’s Response to the Pandemic was Deliberate?

If I had a dollar for every time I heard the words “incompetent” and “Trump” mentioned in the same sentence my wife and I would be set for life. Like “lobster” and “Maine” or “pasta” and “Italian restaurant”, the words just seem to flow together. Ya gotta admit, he does makes it look easy. Sometimes I don’t know whether that’s Alec Baldwin on Saturday Night Live or Trump himself.

But beneath the maddening chaos and maniacal tendencies, lies a very cold, calculating man that is more clever than he’s been given credit for. There is a certain logic to Trump’s behavior that many of his harshest critics often miss.

Take the Coronavirus pandemic, for example. Yes, Trump spent six weeks farting around at his resort and calling it a hoax at his rallies. But once it became obvious that the virus was here to stay and there was nothing he could do to wish it away, he quickly shifted gears. The man who has about as much compassion in his heart as a mercenary out on a weekend spree, has been looking for a way to make the worst pandemic in a century work for him.

The first attempt came in late March. It was clear that if Democratic governors were able to successfully flatten the curve it would make him look bad, so he threatened them, first by withholding valuable PPE that the hospitals in those states desperately needed; next, with the help of fellow Grinch Mitch McConnell, by denying them the financial aid they needed to address the budget shortfalls they were surely going to have.

When those threats didn’t work, he pressured Republican governors to reopen their states too early, gambling that as voters in blue states saw other states’ economies begin to recover they would get angry and exert pressure on their governors to do likewise. But that also backfired because unlike their GOP counterparts, Democratic governors like Andrew Cuomo actually had a spine and relied on the science to guide their decision making.

So here we are, right back where we started three months ago. While states like New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have successfully driven the virus into the ground, states like Texas, Florida, Georgia and Arizona have become the new epicenters. According to Anthony Fauci, the United States is on track to have as many as one hundred thousand cases per day if we don’t turn this around fast. That’s a frighteningly large number, given that in late April, six weeks after the first stay-at-home orders were issued, we were averaging around 30,000 cases per day.

You might think that the prospect of red states having their hospitals overwhelmed by critically-sick patients, many of whom will likely die, would be enough of an incentive for Trump to cry uncle and change course. You’d be wrong. The truth is he doesn’t care about any of that. It’s all part of his grand scheme to get reelected. The body count is irrelevant.

You see, here’s the thing. We know from history that when voter turnout is down, it tends to benefit Republicans. That’s why they’ve historically done so well in midterm elections. Democratic voters for some reason don’t show up, while Republican voters do. The exception was 2018, when turnout was just under 50 percent; the highest since 1974. We might be looking at voter turnout this November that could equal or surpass what we saw in 2008. If that happens, Trump is finished.

But a scenario in which a hundred thousand or more people a day contract COVID-19 will put a damper on such a turnout. Even if only red and purple states are inundated, the largest population centers – the cities – would be hit hardest. If what happened in Louisville, Kentucky, where there was a single polling station to service over 600,000 people, were to be replicated in swing states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and North Carolina, that could be the difference between Joe Biden winning or losing.

In cities like Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Charlotte, Trump is willing to bet the ranch that enough African Americans, faced with the prospect of having to wait six or more hours in line to cast their vote, will choose to stay home rather than risk dying from the Coronavirus. As Mr. Spock would say, Trump’s logic is impeccable, even if dastardly.

Look, Trump knows he can’t delay or cancel the election. And if he tries to deploy the military or National Guard to “patrol” the polling stations, he runs the risk of a rebellion within the Pentagon – the last thing he needs in the closing days of the election. You can forget about that October surprise the Senate has in store for Biden. At this point, nobody gives a shit about Ukraine anymore. The only trick Trump has left up his sleeve is to suppress the vote, particularly the black vote. The coronavirus gives him the perfect weapon with which to pull it off.

And here’s the best part: he actually doesn’t have to lift a finger. All he has to do is keep doing what he’s been doing from day one, which is nothing. That way, Dr. Fauci’s prediction will come to pass and his problem will be solved.

That it will result in needless lives being lost is just part of his diabolical plan. He could care less what the death toll is. All that’s ever mattered to Trump is his miserable hide. And if we know anything about this man, he’ll do anything to save it.

Author: Peter Fegan

Progressive but pragmatic. Lover of music, die-hard Giants' fan and reluctant Mets' fan. My favorite motto? I'd rather be ruled by a smart Turk than a dumb Christian.

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