“ COVID-19 is an opportunity to demand change while the people are paying attention to the crisis. A return to normalcy is the opposite of what we need. This is a moment to think about what should be the new normal and what should be jettisoned forever.”
– Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report, March 25, 2020
Over at Black Agenda Report, senior editor Margaret Kimberley often warns that “it’s just too easy” to criticize Donald Trump, unless one does so only in passing, on the way to a larger critique of the global socio-political and economic order as organized by today’s oligarchs and plutocrats.
She’s right, of course. It is ridiculously easy to point out this man’s obvious, constant, in-your-face dishonesty, raging narcissism, and buffoonery, if only because he and his entire supporting cast are so utterly corrupt and ridiculous to start with.
Yet, I disagree with Kimberley. Yes, it may not take much effort to assess and address this man’s glaring insecurities, but such an exercise is not pointless. Trump’s never-ending perfidy must be highlighted, protested, confronted, interrogated, defied and challenged every single time he does or says something outrageous, ridiculous or absurd — and false. If not, we risk “normalizing” his behavior, his antics…and we will become inured to, even expectant of this governing “style” in all would-be leaders.
But, as Kimberley rightfully points out, it’s not really even about Trump’s “style,” but rather the inexorable suffocation and snuffing out of any semblance of an actual “representative democracy.”
For example, we are now with each passing day being subjected to Trump’s more and more grotesque responses to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic raging across the world, and which has set up its latest headquarters right here in the US. From the very beginning, Trump’s responses have been as lethal as they are absurd. His incompetence, dishonesty and callousness are far beyond embarrassing or impolitic. This man is putting each and every one of us in mortal danger.
Perhaps House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put it best just this past Sunday:
Three recent examples should suffice:
- The Arizona couple who took “Dr.” Trump at his word when at one of his “briefings” he “prescribed” an unproven mix of drugs to treat COVID-19. He died and she remains in intensive care.
- Trump has demanded that his angry scrawl of a signature appear on each and every “stimulus” check soon to appear in the mailbox and/or bank account of almost every citizen. It’s hard to envision a more blatant use of the trappings of office for a more crass and profoundly partisan political purpose.
- And just this week, Trump loudly lauded the TV ratings for his daily COVID-19 “Press Briefings,” comparing them favorably to the reality TV shows “The Bachelor” and “Monday Night Football.” All while people across the country are becoming infected, sick, and dying in ever-increasing numbers all because of his mishandling of this ongoing and, yes, existential crisis.
These forced assemblies are obvious make-shift substitutes and replacements for his now banned MAGA rallies wherein his supporters engage in mass grievance-mongering. These “briefings” are aimed, therefore, directly at his rabid “base” of cult worshipers. And, according to recent polls, at least, it is working.
But as Margaret Kimberley might argue, Trump has managed to turn the COVID-19 pandemonium into yet another giant distraction. For all while he is apparently, purposely, dithering over what to do about the virus, what to do about ill-equipped hospitals and exposed health care workers, and what to do about virus-infested/infected cities and states — all the while his subalterns and sycophants are busy quietly dismantling the last vestiges of FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society — what we used to think of as a floor or safety net for American citizens. Trump’s minions are likewise eagerly “deregulating” any and all environmental safeguards and rules they can find and at breakneck speed.
Thus, we must continue to challenge Trump individually and Trumpism generally, understanding him and it as perversions of what a human being and a “society” must ultimately look like and be about. We must not allow a return to “normal” once COVID-19 has run its course. Indeed, Margaret Kimberley says it better than I ever could:
The genie cannot be stuffed back into the bottle. All the contradictions must be exposed and opposed. The demands for justice and real democracy should outlive this pandemic. If we wait and hope for one $1,000 check the deaths and illness will have been doubly tragic. This historic opportunity for transformational change must not be lost.