"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Friday, April 24, 2020

COVID Casualty–No Outrageous, Marvelous, Inimitable 2020 Campaign Circus We’ve All Been Waiting For

The Speaker of the House is still at it, trying to pin something or other on Donald Trump for something or other he did or didn’t do during the Coronavirus emergency.  Never let up on the prick has been her motto and that of every progressive in the Northeast Corridor. Yet it is not surprising that Trump’s numbers are up and that the betting markets have him well ahead for the 2020 election.  Few Americans want to change ship captains in a storm. 

Russia, Ukraine, and his impeachment have faded well into the background.  Reporters at Trump’s press briefings are unusually objective if not deferential.  While some simply cannot get rid of old habits and try to find some tricky, politically-motivated stunt behind Trump’s statements and policies, most stick to the script with questions everyone wants answered – when will the economy open? when will infections begin to decline? and when can we come out of hiding?

Image result for image trump at covid briefing

Progressives have always believed that government is the provider, caregiver, and guarantor of welfare, equality, and civil justice and that social equality is a matter of state. Ever since the days of Franklin Roosevelt, liberals have fought to increase the role of government; to parry the parochial interests of the states, to discredit individualism, and to dismantle an insolent, predatory private sector.  It is therefore not surprising that progressives have been among the most ardent supporters of government authoritarianism in the time of Corona. 

COVID is a once-only political opportunity.  Once people get used to big government, they will never go back.  It is never been more obvious, progressives say, that the private health care system has never worked and must be changed for a one-payer, government-run system.  The economy, a diverse collection of money-making enterprises without a common goal or national interest, needs overhaul, more dirigisme, corrective legislation, and insistent reform. 

Conservatives understood that many of the intrusive policies of government were necessary as the true dimensions of the pandemic became known; and that a combination of epidemiology and government policy had to go hand in hand; but as Americans got the picture and became more informed, cautious, and protective of themselves and others – in other words, good citizens – they began to wonder why government shutdown orders were becoming more draconian and not less. Not only were individuals and small enterprises quite capable of managing their own lives and affairs, but the unheard of arrogation of power and authority to both federal and state governments was threatening at best and disassembling at worst.   Conservatives became the voices of opposition.  It was time to stop the government juggernaut and return responsibility to the individual.

Image result for images popular protest against shutdown

Progressives of course want none of it.  Government and only government can and should make decisions about the well-being of its citizens, especially in times of crisis.  Conservatives, as always, have been unnecessarily disruptive and distracting.  The world an only become a better, more tolerant, more just, and more compassionate place if this carping from the Right, this selfish, self-centered, politically arrogant, ignorant, and unwanted piece of the political spectrum, continues.

The political divisions in American society are as clear and distinct as ever.  While the cultural meme is ‘We’re all in this together’, political resentments are re-emerging.  Liberals are astonished at how anyone could bring up individual rights at a time like this when anything but rigid social harmony is anti-democratic.  Conservatives are increasingly angry at what they clearly see is power play – a manipulative attempt to restructure American society from the ground up, once and for all.

The bad news is that because of the 24/7 coverage of infection rates, mortality, recovery, hospital beds, ICU occupancy, hot spots, and compliance, there has been no time for the wonderful political circus of an American presidential election.   Had Corona not hit, America would be enjoying trapeze acts, lion taming, clowns, and side show freaks.  Trump, a supremely confident man dismissive of his opponents, more politically incorrect than even the the Presidential crazies of earlier times, more inciting, demeaning, and intolerant than any politician in recent memory, and an absolute master of red meat politics. 

Those who attack him are nonplussed that the very aspects of the man they hate – his arrogance, outrageous humor, disrespect, and irreverence - are loved by his supporters.  The more progressives attack Trump, the greater his support grows amongst his followers; and the more  the Democratic party veers towards the Leftist edge (the Democratic primaries, a kiddie show of bad playground behavior and impossible, fanciful, childish promises, have not been forgotten), the more Trump picks up moderate support.

The political stage is dark, or at least darkened by Corona.  Most liberal politicians who have invoked ‘Stay at home!’ are thankfully there and not on the stump or hawking their wares on CNN and MSNBC.  They are champing at the bit, however, anxious to take on the Big Guy in a real arena, not a ZOOM, mediated, virtual one.  They stomp around the living room, banging the walls, and yelling at the television every time Donald Trump takes the podium – which of course he does every day, making political hay out of the whole situation while cannily doing it with the modicum of respect the emergency demands.  Trump is getting more exposure, more positive coverage, and more political mileage out of COVID than he ever could have in normal times. 

Had COVID not arrived, he would be his other self- carny barker, vaudevillian, circus performer, snake oil salesman, and defiant spit-in-your-face champion of the pissed off, opposing a man not only out of his depth going up against a man like Trump but flummoxed and seemingly bewildered by it all.  Biden knows that he must rise to the occasion, wrestle Trump in the mud, fire Twitter rockets, and be outrageous; but he is trapped by his past – the whole idea of the Democratic ethos of doing the right thing, keeping up standards, never lowering oneself.  Nevertheless, the campaign would have been a good one – not as good as two more equally matched candidates, both with circus credentials, Big Tent personalities, and side show seconds, but still fun.

Image result for images barnum bailey circus poster

So, we voters are denied the carnival and circus of the 2020 Presidential Election campaign.  Even if the country opens up, it will do so only gradually, and more time, investment, and interest will be spent on recovery than on Trump or Biden.  By the time we are back in the swing of things, it will be too late for the Big Tent.  Although Democratic politicians will try to jam as much nastiness and built up resentment of Trump as possible in a few weeks; Trump has had his day, many months basking in the sun, ready and willing to swat away the eager swarm.

It would have been fun to watch Trump and the Democrats go at it.  The Democrat prima donnas – Pelosi, Schumer, The View, Biden’s Little Terrier, and all the rest – vs the greatest showman American politics has ever produced.  It would be a not-to-be-missed spectacle.

Yes, the American campaign cycle is a crude affair of posturing, blather, impossible promises, and carnival hoopla – to be enjoyed like a night at the opera or Barnum & Bailey’s.  However those with ringside seats who enjoy every last pie in the face, every midget and giant, every freak, high wire artist and trapeze daredevil, when the leave the Big Tent they see the real politics.  To anyone paying attention COVID has shown the political differences between progressives and conservatives more clearly and temperately than any wild and woolly campaign ever could.  The response to COVID has brought political philosophy into the spotlight; and Left and Right indeed see the world profoundly differently.  

In other words the real campaign has already been run, and voters, based on what they have seen over the last few months of Corona, have understood what a Republican or Democratic administration would look like.  Not only that, Trump, the master politician and populist seer is in his element and the Left can do nothing to dislodge him.  An over-matched Biden,  increasing moderate dismay at progressive attempts to hijack and transform American economics and culture, and the mastery of a politician/showman the likes of which has never before been seen on the American stage, makes Trump a shoo-in in November.

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