SNAPSHOTS ON CORONA

Barbara from the USA about the current situation regarding the upcoming elections

How do you assess the current situation in the USA regarding the elections?

It is two days until the U.S. elections. My anxiety level is through the roof. I am afraid Donald Trump will be re-elected. I’m afraid we’ll have four more years of chaos and corruption. I am afraid that 2020 will be a repeat of 2016—a qualified candidate wins the popular vote, but the unqualified candidate receives wins the Electoral College, an antiquated way of selecting a president.

I’m afraid Trump will challenge the elections in court—courts he has sought to pack with his supporters. And I’m afraid there will not be a peaceful transition of power, a hallmark of past U.S. elections.

Apparently, I’m not alone in my concerns. A recent poll conducted by the American Psychological Association found that 70 percent of Americans surveyed are anxious about the future of the nation and an equal number say this is the lowest point they can remember in U.S. history. A Washington Post article reports that Americans are concerned about violence at the polls and after the elections. One of my friends got an email from her boss, telling employees they should be worried.

I’m also anxious because Trump never seems to fail. Nothing stops him. He tests positive for covid; he’s out of the hospital in four days. He’s impeached; he stays in office. He makes millions but pays U.S. $750 in taxes. He pays off a porn star and is loved by the Christian right.

At this point, Joe Biden’s victory ought to be a slam-dunk. Trump has presided over a pandemic that has claimed nearly 230,000 lives. He told U.S. journalist Bob Woodward in February that the virus was serious and deadly, then told Americans it was a hoax. The U.S unemployment rate fell to 12.9 million people this month, after peaking at 14 million this spring because the president cannot understand that a healthy workforce is a productive workforce. Trump oversaw the separation of 545 children from their parents when they tried to cross the U.S. border but assured the public the children happier because they were well-taken care of. Trump was impeached for asking Ukraine’s president to give him dirt on political opponent Joe Biden. Trump ordered National Guard troops to fire tear gas on peaceful protesters outside the White House so he could stand in front of a nearby church and hold a Bible upside down. He and his family have made millions from the presidency. He has repeatedly failed to condemn white supremacist terrorist groups, and when the FBI uncovered a domestic terrorist plot to kill Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Trump chastised Whitmer for not thanking him. He has aligned himself with dictators and alienated allies. Numerous former Trump staffers have come forward, calling him inept, unfit, and immoral.

Yes, that ought to be enough. But four years ago, Trump had called Mexicans rapists and criminals, had mocked a disabled reporter, belittled Sen. John McCain, a former prisoner of war, and bragged in a videotape about grabbing women by the genitals because when you’re a star, they let you do it. Yet, 63 million people were able to overlook all that and award him the highest office in the land.

Trump has spent the past four years trying to cast doubt on the integrity of the elections process, making unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. During the 2020 campaign, he’s indicated that unless he wins, the election is rigged. He has sought to discredit mail-in-ballots and absentee ballots and suggested that votes counted after Election Day—even though they were cast legally before the Nov. 3 deadline—should be discarded. The Washington Post has reported that judges appointed by Trump are more likely to enforce stricter limits on voting. And Brett Kavanaugh, one of the three Supreme Court justices nominated by Trump since he took office, recently wrote an opinion that mirrored the president’s view that the election winner should be declared on Nov. 3, whether all votes are counted or not.

Trump may have mishandled the corona virus, failed to provide Americans with a health care plan he promised four years ago, worsened racial tensions, and failed to reform immigration policies, but he has succeeded in one area: He has been skillful in turning Americans against each other. A few personal examples: Not long after Trump was elected, I commented on a Facebook post, thanking The New York Times for its reporting—I don’t remember if the story was even about Trump. A woman who identified herself as a supporter called me a bitch. I commented on a Facebook post that I support a free press. A man I don’t know called me a c***. Several months ago, I left Twitter because I’d been called a snowflake, a libtard, a radical leftist. One woman told me if I didn’t support Trump, I wasn’t a “true American.” Several men told me if I don’t like Trump, I should find a new country. These people don’t know me. They don’t know Trump. But they are certain he is their champion, and they’re willing to insult, demean, or attack anyone who questions him.

Trump is a 74-year-old white man, the son of a millionaire, who has rarely been held accountable for any of his actions. He has bullied, called his opponents names, fired people who wouldn’t declare loyalty to him, and threatened to put political opponents in jail. He holds power, yet he’s been able to convince Americans that he’s the victim-in-chief and that they are persecuted, just as he is. Trump has a solid, devout base—a cult following. His supporters gather at rallies where they shout and cheer, shoulder-to-shoulder, shunning masks that might prevent the spread of corona virus, their love from Trump greater than their desire to keep themselves and their neighbors safe.

I used to have a job that allowed me to travel abroad. One thing I learned was that no matter where we live, we all want the same things: a safe place to live, a good life for ourselves and our children, a job that helps us earn enough that we are free from worry and poverty, freedom from disease and violence. During those trips, I was always proud to say I was from the United States, and I came home grateful for a stable government. I often wondered how corrupt politicians took power in some of the countries I visited. Now, I understand. Step 1: Lie, lie, lie. Step 2: Assemble a group of people, give them power, praise them when they repeat your lies. Step 3: Rally a group of supporters who believe your lies.

Even if our country gets a new president, it will not immediately erase the vast political divides. It will not build back the respect I have lost for family and friends, who have decided they can accept Trump’s racism, sexism, xenophobia, hypocrisy, corruption, and lies as long as the economy is perking along.

As the U.S. election approaches, I am trying to have faith Trump will be a one-term president. I remind myself and my friends abroad that 66 million Americans did not vote for Trump. I remind them that many of us have spoken out against Trump and that many people are pushing back against Trump's policies and behavior. And I remind myself that more than 90 million Americans have voted early to make sure their voices are heard.

America is a far-from-perfect country. There was no shortage of people who told me this when I traveled abroad. Our history is stained by slavery and the murder of Native Americans in the quest to “settle” the West. A former student from Europe once told me he and many fellow Europeans hated the United States for its consumerism, capitalism, and militarism. “Even your underwear is bad,” he told me in class one day. “Oh, no, not our underwear, too,” one student replied.

Despite our government’s failings (and our underwear), there are good people in our country, people who believe in the ideals of freedom, inclusion, democracy. Tuesday, Americans decide whether we embrace the dream or Trump’s nightmare.

Trump’s brand is hate. I am tired of it. I hope other Americans are tired of it, too.

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Barbara lives in Kansas, USA. She is a writer, a retired professor and former journalist.

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