The year 2020 has been… been… Jesus H. Thesaurus Christ, what words would suffice to encapsulate all this? Bad? Horrible? Sucks? Our modern lexis lacks proper teeth for the occasion. An older vocabulary would call this year a jakes, a bodkin to the crumpet, an immedicable gyve twice and thrice over, forsooth. That’s how I feel, anyway, even as a spate of recent events have poured a dram of hope into this tired old heart.
I have been made to wonder, however, how hardcore Trump supporters are dealing with the current situation. I am no particular expert on the topic; all efforts to pour myself through that particular looking glass have left me with a bumped and bloody nose, and none the wiser. That being said, I can hazard a few grimly educated guesses.
An F-5 tornado has roared through Trumpland, the rural/exurban village where Trump’s base resides with Fox News playing on one channel and OANN on the other. A great many stout oaks in the square, long-standing and seemingly eternal, have been blown down by the historic wind, their roots exposed to rain and rot while the soil beneath is freshly turned from the sheer velocity of the collapse.
Their revered and beloved president seemed well placed to cruise to victory against a fractured Democratic Party on the tailwind of a strong economy only months ago. Now? He stands revealed as both fraud and farce, undone by his chronic and ongoing mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis. Few of the devoted would ever admit this out loud, but a green worm of doubt has worked its way into the apple of their hearts, especially among those who finally know someone who has gotten sick or died.
For many long weeks, Trump clarioned the effectiveness of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, the “miracle cures” he himself claimed to be taking. Yesterday, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) yanked its emergency use authorization for those “miracles.” They did so because “it is no longer reasonable to believe that oral formulations of HCQ and CQ may be effective in treating COVID-19, nor is it reasonable to believe that the known and potential benefits of these products outweigh their known and potential risks.”
That has to burn. The Chosen One and his miracle cure, slapped down by pointy-headed medical types who clearly haven’t been listening to Sean Hannity like they should be.
The immediate refuge for Trump’s people, when confronted with science or other nettlesome details that cut against the grain of orthodoxy, is to blame conveniently nebulous forces acting with nefarious intent. They have mastered this talent with bleak efficiency, deploying in their defense the syllogism of the damned: Government is bad, the FDA is government, thus the FDA is bad government, a.k.a. the dreaded “deep state.” This limp mental construct is deployed with dreary regularity, often serving to scramble the debate for just long enough to corrupt another news cycle.
It is, however, a thin coat of paint over a vividly expanding mural. Trump’s rush to reopen the country, aided and abetted by rural supporters who believe COVID is overblown because it hasn’t reached them yet (and because they listen to Trump), has led to a dramatic spike in new cases within those very regions.
In moments like this, it is helpful to the ideological cause to have a practiced liar like Mike Pence on hand. “Vice President Mike Pence urged the nation’s governors to share misleading facts about ongoing coronavirus outbreaks in some states during a private call on Monday,” reports HuffPost. “The call comes as the Trump administration continues to downplay the rise in coronavirus cases in some parts of the country.”
Meanwhile, Trump himself continues to promulgate unfettered, self-serving bullshit. “If we stop testing right now,” he said only yesterday, “we’d have very few cases, if any.” This is the same logic my daughter would deploy while playing hide-and-seek when she was three: If she closed her eyes, she believed I could not see her. She grew up.
For Trump devotees, matters are even more grim beyond the medical realm. The white police state, long the bulwark of a racist status quo, has been exposed. The televised murder of George Floyd has unleashed a tide of outraged humanity in all 50 states and around the world, sweeping politicians and corporations along with it as it seeks to wash away more than 400 years of violence and systemic injustice.
Fox News and OANN desperately labor to paint the massive national protests as the work of fringe factions — “antifa!” Weeks into the ever-growing uprising, however, the truth must have begun to dawn on even the most stalwart of Trump’s brigade: They are badly outnumbered.
From the Insult-to-Injury department: Kneeling during the anthem is now allowed during NFL games, per the edict from league commissioner Roger Goodell. Another refuge — the untouchable sanctity of the flag and the opportunity to rise in faux dudgeon at its alleged desecration — erased. There’s even talk of notorious kneeler Colin Kaepernick getting signed to a team after three years in the wilderness of being right the first time.
The Supreme Court has upheld the right of transgender people not to be fired for being who they are. The 6-3 decision was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was shoehorned onto the high court by Mitch McConnell after Obama nominee Merrick Garland was shamelessly broomed without a hearing. Trump’s reliable evangelical supporters stand aghast. Justice Souter, your table is ready, again.
The justices, on the same day, turned down several opportunities to make the U.S. even more of a gun-happy zone, to the consternation of Second Amendment zealots from sea to shining sea. That did not stop heavily-armed militia members in Albuquerque from opening fire on protesters who were endeavoring to pull down the statue of a genocidal Spanish conquistador.
All across the globe, right-wing protesters who deliberately expose themselves to COVID in order to “own the libs” are met with scorn and derision. Protesters braving the same pandemic for far more noble reasons, by comparison, are hailed as heroes, including Patrick Hutchinson, the Black Lives Matter protester in London who bodily hauled an injured right-wing counter-protester to safety during a melee in the street.
Bleak times indeed for the Trump faithful, yet all is not yet lost. The same Supreme Court that upheld the rights of transgender people is poised to rule on abortion rights, and whether the executive branch of the federal government stands beyond the reach of congressional oversight and subpoena. If the court eviscerates Roe and puts Trump above the rule of law, his supporters will have staged the legal equivalent of a 12-run rally in the bottom of the ninth.
Even that, however, stands in doubt. Chief Justice Roberts specifically assigned the writing of the trans rights ruling to Gorsuch, perhaps as a signal. Roberts is deeply sensitive about the high court being perceived as partisan, especially whenever it is brazenly so. Having Gorsuch — a Trump justice — write the assent can be interpreted as a public warning from Roberts that his court is not going to play the season’s white-hot political games in the way the president and his people hope they will.
The year has been a bodkin to the crumpet, all right … but at least I’m not a Trump supporter. Many of his most ardent followers, if not most, will stay with him until the bitter end. This is tragic farce, you see, played in several acts which have only just begun.