The recent chorus of Democratic Party leaders lining up to denounce President Donald Trump’s climate science denial is deafening. As the West Coast of the United States burns relentlessly, taking lives and land, spewing ash and smoke, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden denounced Trump’s refusal to acknowledge climate science, saying in a speech, “If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more of America ablaze?” He added, referencing hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, “If you give a climate denier four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised when more of America is underwater?”
In more than 20 years of living in Southern California, I have never been in a potential fire evacuation zone—until now. The entire state is seemingly on fire with a record-breaking 2 million acres already burned this year alone, with months to go before the end of fire season. The situation is so dire that the state’s fire officials are warning they “simply do not have enough resources to fully fight and contain every fire.” Fires are burning from the northern-most part of the state down to the border with Mexico, and tens of thousands of Californians are under evacuation orders. While fire is normal in California, the sort of out-of-control wildfires that spread rapidly and burn ferociously every few weeks are neither natural nor inevitable. Most importantly, there are long-term solutions available if we would only implement them.
Police in America, whose mottos claim to “protect and serve” us, have been openly declaring allegiance with the forces of white supremacy. It is no coincidence that this has become a hallmark of Donald Trump’s presidency. Trump defended Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old white suspect in the shooting deaths of two activists in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the days following the police shooting of a Black man named Jacob Blake. Implying that the suspected shooter was acting in self-defense against Black Lives Matter protesters, Trump said, “He was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like… He probably would have been killed.” Later, in a Fox News interview, he defended police in a similar manner, saying they were “under siege” and using a golf analogy to explain why they routinely kill unarmed people: “just like in a golf tournament, they miss a three-foot putt.”
The last four years have been deeply traumatizing to millions of Americans as we have watched our nation in the stranglehold of a maniacal, dictatorial and compulsively deceptive president. But it is worth examining the relationship that President Donald Trump has with his voters in order to understand why he won the 2016 election and why he continues to command such fervent loyalty a few months ahead of the next election. Willing to overlook his lies, improprieties, and corruption, Trump’s voters have a transactional relationship with the president that is practical, powerful, and surprisingly instructional to the rest of us.
President Donald Trump thinks of himself as a champion against human trafficking. He addressed a White House Summit on the issue in January claiming there was a “humanitarian crisis” at the border fomented by criminal organizations and that “traffickers victimize countless women and children.” He signed an executive order and diverted $400 million in funding to combat the issue, boasting in his usual manner that “we have signed more legislation on human trafficking than any other administration has ever even thought about.” But in recent months, the administration has been found to be flouting the United States’ own anti-trafficking laws by deporting thousands of children and families seeking asylum, practically delivering them into the hands of traffickers across the border in Mexico.
Joe Biden’s pick of Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) as his running mate for the 2020 Democratic presidential ticket has generated strong responses. While many Democrats are elated at the idea of seeing a brown-skinned woman of Indian and Jamaican heritage in such a position, progressives are debating one another about Harris’ mixed record on bread-and-butter issues such as criminal justice reform, foreign policy, and health care. In many ways, Harris is not unlike Barack Obama: charismatic, intellectually brilliant, telegenic, and with just the kind of racially diverse background that symbolizes an America that most liberal-minded people want to live in. But far more hopeful than Harris’ achievement is the new crop of staunchly progressive young people of color that is chipping away at the Democratic Party establishment through electoral politics.
When President Donald Trump was challenged by Axios national political correspondent Jonathan Swan to respond to the fact that, “a thousand Americans are dying a day” due to COVID-19, the president responded as though the grim tally was perfectly acceptable, saying, “They are dying, that’s true. And it is what it is.” While observers were aghast at the callousness of his statement, it should not have surprised us. Trump had warned that the death toll would be high, and he had asked us months ago to get used to the idea. In late March, the White House Coronavirus Task Force had projected that 100,000 to 240,000 Americans would die from the virus. Rather than unveil an aggressive plan to tackle the spread and prevent the projected mortality figures, the president had said, “I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead.”
When Congress passed the CARES Act earlier this year, lawmakers gave some low-wage Americans who lost their jobs an income they’ve been demanding for years: $600 a week, which works out to $15 an hour for a 40-hour workweek. Because the federal minimum wage is less than half that rate—stuck there due to the intransigence of conservatives waging a class war against the poor—the coronavirus pandemic ironically gave the bottom rung of the American workforce a taste of what they could have had all along. So popular was this $600 in jobless benefits that even some Republicans who had voted against that provision in the CARES Act boasted about it to their constituents and failed to mention that like most of their GOP colleagues, they had initially opposed the provision.
President Donald Trump’s recent reelection campaign advertisement is straight out of the plot of a horror movie. Just days after he deployed federal officers to the streets of Portland, Oregon, his campaign released a 30-second television spot featuring an elderly white woman watching on her television the news of activists demanding a defunding of police. The woman shakes her head in disapproval as she notices a figure at her door trying to enter her house. She nervously calls 911, but apparently the activists she disapproves of have been so effective in their nefarious demands that the universal emergency hotline Americans rely on now goes unanswered. The vulnerable woman drops her remote control as the intruder enters her home, and we are only left to imagine the horror of what he does to her as the words “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America” appear on the screen. In this dystopian version of America, only Trump promises law and order.
When schoolchildren across the United States began their summer break, President Donald Trump had more than two months to bring the coronavirus crisis under control in time for schools to reopen for the fall. But, instead of tackling the virus’ spread head-on, he did what most observers expected of him: he politicized the pandemic and acted as though he were the sole victim of the virus. If Trump’s message can be distilled into a single idea, it is that if we simply do not acknowledge that the virus is ravaging the nation, we can go about with business as usual and re-elect Trump in November.