The coronavirus has changed everything, and one wishes that this was an overstatement. From forcing sports leagues to cancel or suspend their seasons of play to shutting down large sections of the economy, the impact of this pandemic has been monumental and earth-shattering. Not since the Spanish Flu of 1918 has a virus posed the possibility of transforming human society in such a radical way, and modern society doesn’t quite know how to cope with it. What’s worse is that the extreme cultural conditions precipitated by this “invisible enemy” has another potential side effect which can’t be diagnosed by a doctor: the potential to help re-elect Trump and give American society its final push into the abyss of fascism.
How so, you might ask? Wouldn’t Trump’s terrible mishandling of this crisis be used against him as a shining example of why he is clearly unfit for the office? Didn’t he mock this serious threat as a “hoax” earlier this year, claiming it was an attempt to harm his chances of winning in November? Could the American people honestly be so gullible to ignore his utter incompetence as a leader in such trying times?
While it is painful to say this, Trump is on track to actually win re-election despite these obvious shortcomings, precisely because the American people are in such an exhausted and desperate mindset that they will praise any sign of leadership from this president. Why? Because they want the horror to end. They want the comfort of knowing that someone is fighting for them. They want to know and believe that everything will be alright. If Trump succeeds in presiding over the defeat of a deadly pandemic and manages to simultaneously oversee the phoenix-like resurrection of an economy brought to the brink of destruction by said pandemic, he will be well positioned to be rewarded with a resounding re-election.
Polling numbers released recently for the president have shown that his support on handling the crisis has exceeded half the population polled. This momentum has actually given him some of his best approval numbers to date. His polling against Joe Biden (the media and political establishment’s crowned “presumptive winner” in the Democratic Party’s nomination process) has also significantly improved thanks to the appearance of being a strong leader coupled with the relative absence of his apparent opponent for November. It may seem unthinkable, but this pandemic might actually boost Trump’s chances of securing a second term.
Not only is it giving him a boost, but the pandemic is also kicking open a door to authoritarianism in general. From the postponed primaries (which were the right thing to do in the emergency-based short term, but would be frightening in the long-term if this precedent is abused) to the Trump Administration’s push for Constitutional rights of Habeas Corpus to be suspended for the duration of this crisis, we are seeing more than a single example of how tyranny is beginning to dip its toes into the waters of our dying democracy. Trump has even gone as far as to demand that states not report unemployment figures on a daily basis and even threatened to not extend federal assistance to the state governments which appear to criticize how the Administration has responded to the crisis.
Meanwhile, the Trump Administration has overseen a vicious series of ICE raids on the undocumented, exploiting the fact that everyone is likely to be spending a lot more time at home. This has been coupled with Trump’s team openly suggesting that we amass a troop presence along our border with Canada. While the only way to effectively shut down the virus in lieu of a vaccine is to enforce a nationwide quarantine, this option – which would require the National Guard of every state to be employed – paves the way for nightmarish abuse at a time when we teeter on the edge of fascism finally taking root in this country and destroying liberty for good. While it was the right decision to activate the Defense Production Act and nationalize certain companies to produce ventilators, the encroachment upon the free market in this way can be abused if a leader with dictator-like tendencies learns to love the power they enjoy in the moment.
Trump is not the cause of our problems, but a symptom of a system which has failed. Fascism is the natural result of a crumbling political and economic infrastructure devoid of an option to take the route of true unity for collective progress. If Trump rides into November appearing as the champion who conquered COVID-19 and restored the glory of our economy against a candidate who wants to take us back to the way life was before Trump’s rise then history teaches us that Trump is likely to win…and it may not even be close. None of Trump’s lies – from his empty promises of getting people back to work (EVEN DURING THIS CRISIS) to his earlier claims that this was all a hoax – will barely harm him if he is met with an unexciting challenger who can barely carry on an important discussion and who disappeared for an inexplicable period of time when this crisis really started captivating the nation.
If Trump wins again, then it really will be very difficult for democracy to survive the next four years. He will see an electoral victory of any sort this November as a permission slip to press forward aggressively with an anti-working class, anti-democracy agenda. The Safety Net will be in serious danger and the Supreme Court will swing so far to the Corporatist Right-Wing that it will drive the final nail in the coffin of the Republic built by our Founding Fathers.
Our darkest days truly lie ahead if we see Trump win this November. People have to see this. Climate Change will get worse. Wars will become far more likely. Education will continue to erode. The numerous health crises will only be exacerbated alongside the rising cost of for-profit care. Atrocities against a slew of minority populations will only get worse and further exploited in the politics of division. Finally, the gap between the wealthy and the poor will only grow wider with soaring homelessness continuing and poverty itself reaching new heights.
The Fascist Revolution co-opted this Era of Populism due to the corruption of the Democratic Party by the Oligarchs, and now the final push into authoritarianism will come as a result of that same political organization which refuses to sacrifice its lucrative connection with the wealthy few in favor of exciting the rebellious working class. There is still time to stop this nightmare from coming to fruition, but the clock is ticking and all the cards are in the hands of the President using the bully pulpit to portray himself as the leader we need to weather the pandemic that his blatant incompetence and corruption permitted to get out of control.
The only hope democracy has to thwart this nightmare from entering its next phase is to give rise to a true populist-infused democratic revolution to counteract the false prophet of a false revolution. Only a genuine champion of the people’s outrage can effectively dismantle the cloak of lies which shields an aspiring autocrat like Trump from accountability. Only someone with a public reputation for true and relatively untarnished integrity can expose the incompetence and corruption of the failed leadership which made this pandemic and our numerous other crises worse than they ever should have been.
Our biggest problem? We find ourselves on a path to put the fascist up against a weak opponent with the backing of corporate America (the same corporate interests enjoying tremendous benefits under Trump, mind you) and whose only real argument for election is that they aren’t as bad as the wannabe dictator. The Democratic Revolution needs to wake up and organize like never before to prevent the nomination of the candidate who hesitates to fight for working people and democracy and instead choose the candidate we know and trust will not flinch when taking the fight to Trump and his enablers in the oligarchy as well as the lapdogs thereof amongst the political and media establishment.
Time is nearly running out. We mustn’t let the symptom of our societal illness create the political pandemic which wipes democracy out for generations to come. Let’s stop the spread now by rising to the occasion in these uncertain times marked by fear over the outcome of an invisible enemy’s assault. We can do this, but we must come together now.