WASHINGTON – When Donald Trump was asked on Fox News about his priorities for a second term, he was unusually tongue-tied.
He can't go with the economy – it's in free fall as a result of his bungled handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with the United States doing worse than any other country in controlling the virus. Three million Americans have the virus, 132,000 have died, testing is lagging far behind need, medical personnel are over-stressed, hospitals lack enough beds and nobody knows how schools safely will reopen.
He can't go with foreign policy – our alliances are in tatters. He gave credibility to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and got nothing in return. He has praised Russian dictator Vladimir Putin so highly the world ridicules him. NATO, which has kept the peace for decades, is in decline. The U.S. pulled out of the climate change pact. Iran is rebuilding its uranium enrichment ability after Trump dismantled the nuclear agreement.
He can't go with Americans feeling upbeat. Three-fourths say the country is going in the wrong direction.
He can't go with improving the military. He used their precious resources to shore up a border wall. He politicized the military by putting U.S. combat troops on the streets of the capital, gassing protesters for a photo op as he held a Bible, used top military leaders as props and ridiculed Black Lives Matter.
He can't go with controlling the deficit. The national debt has increased $2 trillion because of his ill-advised tax cuts for the wealthy. Some of the latest traunch of government payments to staunch the economic damage done by COVID-19 went to Trump loyalists and big companies.
He can't go with anti-corruption; his administration has been one of the most corrupt in U.S. history. He and his family have increased their wealth and that of their friends enormously.
He can't run on trade; he started a damaging and costly trade war, causing the price of imported products to rise for American consumers.
He can't run on assembling a first-rate team. All the major players in his administration have been replaced by sycophants out for themselves.
He can't run on character. He is admittedly immoral and a proven liar
Finally, he told Fox that he should be re-elected because he has, wait for it, experience.
A week later Trump got his act together and announced he's going to run on racism, white supremacy and maintaining statues to Confederates traitors to the United States who tried to form a new country dedicated to the proposition that people of color should be slaves.
Using Native American land in South Dakota as a backdrop, Trump gave one of the worst speeches in presidential history. As America reels from acknowledging that systemic racism is rampant and police brutality against Black men is far too widespread, Trump is fanning hatred, polarization and anger. Unable to widen his support, he is counting on a passionate base, basically white men and women who feel victimized by globalization, economic change and inadequate education and who embrace culture wars.
But what has Trump done for them? Millions are unemployed. He has created chaos for undocumented workers who had been living quiet, productive lives. He wants to deport their children and has separated thousands of children and parents. He has poked holes in the social safety net. He has stoked fear with racist rhetoric. He has pulled us out of the World Health Organization during a pandemic. He has helped make health care more difficult to get.
When Trump argues "make America great again," the big question is "great" for whom? When Black people were slaves? When workers had no rights, no time off, no wage increases? When women couldn't vote, hold jobs or access credit? When the U.S. government broke treaties with Native Americans? When no Irish could apply? When the world was at war?
Trump is this era's Andrew Johnson. Johnson came to the White House after the Civil War to undo the march to equality as much as he could. Trump came to power after the Obama era, not to build on it but to dismantle it. Johnson was impeached, just as Trump has been.
If you are a Republican, ask yourself, in 2020, what do you stand for? At the least, you must admit that the party of Lincoln, the party of Eisenhower, the party of Reagan is dead.
The party of Trump revolves about the preservation and enrichment of one man. Trump.
About The Writer
Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at email@example.com.
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