Nick Berry: You’d think things would be looking bad for Trump. No so fast. | COMMENTARY
By NICK BERRY
SEP 01, 2020 AT 4:00 PM
You would think with Trump’s re-election would be in peril, with his botched management of the pandemic, the tanking economy, neglect of increasing climate-change-induced disasters, and the spate of police shootings of Black men and the resulting turmoil. The polls, even in key swing states, indicate as much.
Not so fast.
Trump is a master at fighting and winning. We know that he purposely makes enemies, creates conflict and then uses his advantage in power to crush the enemies he has created. In business his power was money and suing; in government, it is his control of the Congress and administration, his dominance over the legal system, his partnership with Fox News, the skillful use of the echo strategy, and his devoted, obedient, political base which he uses to intimidate members of the Republican party.
He “governs” by purposely neglecting public and foreign policy — nothing on health care, climate change, infrastructure redevelopment, race relations, environment, or energy. Tackling these would take teamwork with an increased reliance on professional bureaucrats, and so dilute his absolute power over government.
His provoking of violence and conflict in Democratic cities has been masterful. He has used federal troops and his armed militias as provocateurs, knowing that they are superb at generating violent-conflict reaction and thus the need for law and order. Martial law is now in Trump’s tool kit.
Only recently has the public become aware of the most ominous recent political development. The proliferation and size of radical-right armed militias who take their cues from the Trump campaign. They are no friends of democracy. They are available to corrupt urban and minority voting in league with Republican-controlled states doing the same.
Other signs threatening the Constitution and the democratic process are also becoming evident. Take Trump’s partisan use of the White House — “We’re here and they’re not” — in concluding the Republican Convention. Or consider the supreme leader’s habitual disregard of facts and the truth when he speaks or tweets. Or note the employment of the secretary of state and attorney general, among other department heads, in his re-election campaign, or his assault on the U.S. Postal Service to hinder its ability to manage mail-in ballots.
Attempts by Trump’s opponents to counter these missteps have proven difficult. No one has dealt with a president like Trump before, one who thrives on fights, conflicts, victory as the sole measure of governing, and one who seeks power for its own sake to achieve celebrity and popularity.
To mimic Trump’s game plan is anathema to everyone who plays by the spirit and process of the Constitution. Does the opposition, here Biden and his supporters, calmly put forward policies to manage the country’s growing problems, hoping to attract voters? But compared to the salience, media focus, and attention-grabbing of Trump’s generated conflicts, they only appear on newspapers’ page 12 and social media/TV if at all. Trump, as he intends, dominates the news. Trump, Trump, Trump blots out the contrary.
But maybe Trump’s game is wearing thin.
Maybe neglected policy issues now raised by Biden have gained a dominant popular focus. Maybe past political sins, such as Trump’s clear collusion with Putin and the Russians in the 2016 election have become beyond doubt. Maybe his disparagement of women, people of color, and immigrants has finally tainted his macho image.
We seem to be getting tired of this flashy but incompetent president.