We Deserve Donald Trump
Donald Trump faked his way through his presidency, retaining his core support until he finally encountered a crisis that was not of his own making so that he might backpedal from it cleanly.
The people of the United States were finally forced to confront the administration’s incompetence. As a result, despite starting the year as a favorite to win reelection, he is now predicted to lose by an embarrassing amount not seen since Walter Mondale.
Some of those things did happen. However, narratively, it misses the whole point.
At no point has Trump shown himself to be a suitable or even adequate president. At best he bumbled and fumbled his way through when he or his subordinates weren’t engaged in outright corruption. He pardoned war criminals as long as they were sufficiently sycophantic. Most of this was done in full view of the public.
As of the beginning of this year, the public did not care. Trump was considered by many a slight favorite to win. The economy was doing fine. The majority of Americans, including myself were not put out. Some of us even got a tax break.
What is different now is that Trump’s incompetence has now finally trickled down to the general public. People—actual regular people—cannot go out and about without fear because the administration has refused at every instance to follow basic precautions. To be fair, many of those suggested precautions have changed. Experts have shown themselves lacking in certain dimensions, most famously with respect masks, but also with respect to the scope of the disease and the risks we faced. Nevertheless, we know what works from other countries who have handled the disease well, and the administration will still have none of it. The president continues to make demonstrably false claims to the public including that children are immune to the disease. His speech alone is a public health risk because there are people who persist in believing him.
Nevertheless, I don’t think that is what polls show. Polls instead showed that people were happy before, and now they are not. There is a vague sense of displeasure with life, and that displeasure gets assigned to whomever is president. The president has not changed who he is in the least bit over the last eight months. We have no new information about him that we lacked before. The only thing that changed is that we are mad.
Narratively, the virus is a deus ex machine. It didn’t expose Trump’s flaws. Those were already exposed. Coronavirus just made people sad. Joe Biden is no hero who showed a better path. The public did not learn the dangers of a man like Trump. They’d vote for him again if things were rosier. The public just wants to lash out against him just as it once used him to lash out at the Democratic Party four years ago.
I hope November delivers us salvation from this administration. Understand though that we have done nothing to deserve it.