President Donald Trump believes that the American people are optimistic and ready to end social distancing measures in order to “reopen” the economy, demonstrating a huge disconnect between his views and the American people’s real attitudes about the coronavirus pandemic.
During an interview with The New York Post on Monday that took place at the White House, Trump expressed his beliefs in no uncertain terms.
“I think they’re starting to feel good now,” Trump said of the American people. “The country’s opening again. We saved millions of lives, I think.”
In fact, the slow reaction to the pandemic from the Trump administration likely resulted in tens of thousands of Americans unnecessarily dying, according to research from a pair of epidemiologists.
Trump went on to argue in favor of ending stay-at-home orders across the country in order to start the economy back up again — a move he wrongly asserted that most Americans wanted to see happen at this time.
“You have to be careful, but you have to get back to work,” Trump said during the interview. “People want the country open.”
The president also argued that the economy would be making a huge comeback as a result of ending social distancing, and that this year’s “fourth quarter is going to be very good.”
He reiterated his view that Americans are generally optimistic about things. “I don’t know if you see it, but I think there’s a great optimism now,” Trump said.
The president’s words don’t match how the American people really feel.
According to polling published by The Washington Post and the University of Maryland on Tuesday, most Americans are opposed to reopening most types of closed businesses in the country at this time. Opposition is high to reopening gun stores (70 percent opposed), dine-in restaurants (74 percent), nail salons and barber shops (74 percent and 69 percent, respectively), and movie theaters (82 percent).
Asked whether the worst is behind us or the worst is yet to come, only 31 percent agreed with the former response, with 38 percent saying that the road ahead is likely to be grimmer than it has been. Another 30 percent said the worst of the pandemic is happening right now.
Additional polling suggests Trump is completely in the dark when it comes to what actions Americans want to take. Most Americans (76 percent) support at least two more weeks of social distancing measures, while only 11 percent said they opposed the idea, according to a recent Business Insider/SurveyMonkey poll.
And optimism? Trump’s comments are wrong on that front, too. According to an Economist/YouGov poll conducted late last month, just 30 percent of Americans say we’re on the right track, while 57 percent say we’re heading in the wrong direction.
It’s unclear if Trump is genuinely ignorant about how Americans feel right now or he is purposefully denying their concerns. It’s been evident for quite some time now that the president wants to end social distancing in an effort to improve the economy, possibly because he believes it may better his chances in the upcoming presidential election.
But even if he were to become successful in improving the economy at this point by “reopening” states across the country — an outcome that many doubt could realistically happen — it’s likely that the president will put his reelection chances at risk by putting the American people in harm’s way, at a time when most, as the polling data shows, are against such moves.