I’ve not written about Donald Trump because bashing my head against the wall is not one of my top self-care activities. Besides, reading about Donald Trump is crazy-making enough, in the way a bad drug or an old flame can be.
But ages ago (i.e. in mid-March), a preposterous, impossible idea broke into my brain and simply wouldn’t leave. Worse still, the evidence for its reality is growing every dread-filled day.
It’s the idea that Donald Trump will help Republican voters live and let Democratic voters die.
Until this week, I dismissed this as the ravings of a left-wing paranoid lunatic.
But what we all know about America’s 45th President is that there is no bottom to his moral plunder, no point where we can say “He would never do this” because he then reliably does.
So it’s not hard to turn his words and actions this past week into a tidy little theory of what’s going to happen next for America and by implication, us.
- Of America’s 50 state governors, only eight of them have not issued state-wide directives telling their residents to stay home. All of them are Republican.
- Trump has deliberately with-held masks and ventilators from New York State whose Democratic governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, has been screaming for both. New York City alone, which is so wildly Democratic that Trump has forsaken it as his home-town, reports 67,551 active cases of COVID-19 as of this morning and 3,048 deaths. It’s important to grasp the scale of the tragedy there.Here, by which I mean all of Canada, whose population of 38 million is more than four times that of New York City, has 15,940 active cases and 281 deaths.
- Last week, Trump also took on Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer who complained that “the federal government did not take this seriously early enough” and added: “To hear the leader of the federal government tells us to work around the federal government because it’s too slow is kind of mind-boggling.”He then unleashed a Twitter attack calling her ‘Half Whitmer’, saying she’s in over her ‘ahead’, and ordering Vice President Mike Pence not to talk to her. Then again, she is a woman.
Last week, it became clear that states which were nice to Trump would get help, and states that weren’t, won’t. While it seems preposterous to say this even under the cover of paranoid fantasy, we may not be far from when individual Americans who support Trump will get help and those who don’t, won’t. Show up at a hospital with your Republican membership card and…go to the front of the line?
Remember what Mr. Trump replied when asked if he could assure New Yorkers that they’ll have enough ventilators?
“They should’ve had more ventilators,” Trump said. “They were totally under-serviced. We are trying to do — we are doing our best for New York. You know, we have, ah, we have states, we have a lot of states — we have territories too — but we have a lot of states that have to be taken care of. Some much more so than others.”
The difference here is that the Democratic Governors and their states have realized they’re on their own and that they cannot rely on Washington for anything except a daily jolt of rage. But when it comes to individual citizens, well, it reminds me of the people of New Orleans who were trapped in Hurricane Katrina in 2005. They waited patiently for help from Washington. Then it dawned on them that help wasn’t coming, the cavalry would never arrive. Then they got to work saving themselves.
But Trump, always a believer in the Velvet Rope economy, may be turning that malign neglect on its head as well, doubling down (a verb rarely used before he became President) on helping his political friends and punishing his political foes, this time with what could be a death sentence.
For the vast majority of us readers who are Canadians and who can practice psychic distancing from America’s tragedy, this may all seem safely ‘down under’.
But when an American President can order a US company to divert its production of COVID-19 respirators destined for Canada to the US, well, I’d hate to think what would happen if a Canadian company comes up with a vaccine that could save us all. He did that with a Germany company last month, trying to buy them under cover of darkness. But Germany is far away. Canada is just a quick raid across the border.
I hope this never happens. It’s upsetting to even think it could. Even writing about Donald Trump feels infectious these days.