As the nation nears election day, the stress, anxiety, and fear is being felt everywhere on both sides of the political spectrum. How quickly the character and soul of America has changed in the past four years under the divisive fear-mongering of one person, Donald Trump. And how must the beacon of democracy look to the rest of the world? The President previously said that he may not accept the results of the election and this week said that there will be trouble in the streets if his reelection is denied. Storefronts are being boarded up in anticipation of civil unrest. National guard units are being put on standby. Biden campaign buses are being driven off the road by a caravan of Trump trucks. Voters are harassed while they wait in long lines to vote. Lawyers are already preemptively filing cases attempting to restrict the counting of votes. And nearly 100,000 Americans test positive on one day for a deadly disease that has claimed 230,000 lives.
Constitutional scholars are warning of the crisis that may soon follow if the President loses but refuses to concede the election or attempts to stage a coup. Trump has been laying the ground work for weeks for disputing the results alleging that the election is already rigged against him and that there is no way he should lose. This week he claimed that the counting of mail-in voting will result in the election being stolen from him which he won’t allow. Trump could claim prematurely before all votes are counted that he has won, and then claim that the election is being stolen from him once all votes are in and he is proven to have lost. Some have speculated that Republican controlled state legislatures would ignore a Democrat win in their own states by sending to the Electoral College their own set of Trump supporting electors. A contested election not resolved by the college in December could be sent back for voting by a single representative from each of the 50 states to decide. Or it could end up in the Supreme Court where three of the conservative justices were appointed by the man that is causing this legal juggernaut. Trump could call out the armed militias that support him who are on “standby” into the streets in massive violent protests to intimidate electors and courts. The chaotic scenarios are endless and given the behavior of Trump during the past 45 months, who can rule anything out?
Yet, ever so encouraging news is that by the end of the week nearly 90 million Americans have already voted early in the presidential election. Election watchers are predicting a record turnout in this year’s election with over 75% of eligible voters going to the polls. Not surprising, the Trump campaign is busy filing lawsuits that are intended to impede the counting of all votes cast early, fearing that many of them are for Biden. Perhaps that will be one gift of the Trump presidency we can celebrate; that he convinced every voter that every vote matters.
The week starts with 8.6 million infections and 225,000 deaths from the pandemic. It ends with 9.1 million and 230,000 fatalities due to an average of over 75,000 new cases and 800 deaths per day. This staggering number of 9 million occurred some 280 days after the first known case was reported in the US in the state of Washington. Nearly 100,000 cases were reported on Friday alone. It only took only two weeks to go from 8 to 9 million. Some 47 states are reporting a rise in cases with some like the Dakotas breaking records from the spring and summer waves. Positivity rates are soaring above 30% in some states. Health officials are reporting that this the third wave is now out of control across many communities and entire states.
Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows went so far to imply the Trump administration has given up by saying that: “We’re not going to control the pandemic….because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.” No it is not just like the flu and that is not why we have failed to contain it with the deaths of 230,000 Americans. They have no shame. This was the day after the Vice President Pence’s Chief of Staff Marc Short had tested positive along with other members of his staff. Did the Vice President go into quarantine? Of course not. Meanwhile, the President continues to falsely claim that the country has “rounded the turn” and it was only the “fake news media” that wanted to talk about COVID and that the reason we have so many cases is because “all we do is test.” His son-in-law Jared Kushner went on to brag that “Trump’s now back in charge. It’s not the doctors” referring to the diminishing role of the pandemic task force.
Some states including Illinois, Colorado, Idaho and Massachusetts are once again enforcing restrictions by closing dining establishments and sending students back home from their public schools and college campuses. States with Republican governors and legislatures are mostly echoing the President’s rhetoric by refusing mask mandates saying we just need to take personal responsibility and learn to live with it. Or as Joe Biden said in the debate, the President really means Americans are having to learn to die with it. Despite all the carnage many Americans, most of them Trump supporters, claim that staying indoors and wearing a mask is just too much of a sacrifice to keep others in their family and community safe. What sad patriots they claim to be.
The Commerce Department reported this week that the US economy rebounded in the 3rd calendar quarter with GSP growing by over 7% at an annualized rate of nearly 33%. This is good news for millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of businesses who have lost their livelihood during the pandemic. Unfortunately, most of the gain was a one-time benefit attributed to the several trillion dollars which the Congress and Fed central bank flooded into the economy. But that flow has stopped and even a bifurcated “K” recovery is expected to stall out for everyone in the 4Q unless additional stimulus is forthcoming. And while the stock market continues to do well, economists remind us that the market is not the economy as nearly half of all American families do not own any stock.
Trump’s COVID recession is not only harming the current quality of life of Americans but is threatening their future as well. Job losses are said to be accelerating looming financial shortfalls in Social Security. During the crisis Trump has wanted to eliminate the payroll tax which funds Social Security, likely just to hasten its demise. The solution to making the trust fund solvent for future generations is relatively simple; raise the $137,000 income threshold to which it the tax is collected. It is perverse if not immoral that the lowest income earners pay their half of the tax on their entire income while the highest earners often do so on only a small portion of their total income.
The recession is ravaging state and local budgets, including those of public schools and health services. Many are reporting a decrease in revenues of 10-20% forcing a reduction in services at a time they are most needed. And they are putting additional government workers into unemployment lines competing for the few jobs available in the private sector.
By a senate vote of 52 to 48 Judge Amy Coney Barrett was seated on the Supreme Court this week, a week before an election in which she may be forced to decide. What must the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg be thinking from above seeing such an extreme conservative like Barrett take her seat? Barrett’s placement on the court likely cements a conservative majority of 6-3 that may last for decades. No longer do most Americans think that the court is nonpartisan, and many have not since the court ruled on Gore v. Bush in 2000. That is unless Biden wins and as he has said he appoints a bipartisan commission to examine changes to the court including term limits and even possible expansion. Yet, the Democrats are so poor at messaging they allow others to claim that they are the ones guilty of threatening to pack the court when it was the Republicans who already packed the court by withholding for over a year President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland. Democrats should be saying they simply seek justice in the Supreme Court.
The new justice is expected to rule on the Affordable Care Act when it comes in front of the high court before the end of their current term. She had already opined negatively about it in recent years. Many Americans understand that over 10 million more have insurance because of the ACA. But not all realize that nearly all Americans benefit because of changes to their own private insurance enacted by Obamacare. These include being protected against rejection of pre-existing health conditions, retroactive revocation of policies because of minor mistakes in applications, delays in paying claims, removing young people on their parents plans, preventive care like vaccinations, family planning services, and caps on claims.
New court filings released this week accuse the Trump Administration of losing track of the parents of 545 immigrant children who were separated from their families at the southern border. The Dept. of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security have yet to reunite these children with their parents, most of whom they cannot find. Some kids were less than 5 years old when forcibly separated from their parents, most whom were denied immigration or refugee status and deported. Overall during the Trump presidency, the number of refugees allowed into the US has been cut by 80%. We are no longer the humanitarian leader of the free world for people displaced by war, famine, and natural disasters. What pity will the rest of the world have on America when we are displaced by our own war, internal strife, famines, and disasters?
A federal judge has ruled that tweets by President Trump helped incite wrongful conduct by federal officers in their handling of racial justice protests. The Dept. of Homeland Security was accused of using overly violent and aggressive actions against largely peaceful protestors around the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon. Trump, the master of creating anarchy and agitation, had tweeted that federal forces would not leave until a roundup of anarchists and agitators had been completed.
Trump issued an executive order this past week that reclassified over 100,000 federal employees to they could be fired without cause. Just another move of an aspiring autocrat who loves power far more than democracy. With this order Trump will be free to fire career servants whom are not sufficiently loyal enough to the supreme leader and pack federal agencies with yes men and women. That sure drains the swamp.
It has been two years since Trump announced a very big deal that Foxconn would invest $10B to build a massive electronics factory in Wisconsin that would employ over 10,000. And what happened? Nothing; it was just another Trump big lie. Less than 300 jobs were created and there is no new factory.
The President continues to rollback environmental protections and dismiss the impact of climate change – just as he has dismissed the coronavirus – as the fifth tropical storm hits the coast of Louisiana this year. Hurricane Zeta is the 27th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, a record.
The above news items have been taken from a number of local, regional, national and international news media including print, broadcast, and digital sources, but no social media. Additional editorial opinions and comments about these news items are those of this author.