Monday, July 6, 2020

Trump's Support is Collapsing Because He is on the Wrong Side of History

Trump is swimming against the tide of history and he is hemorrhaging support. The polls indicate that Trump is on the wrong side of almost all of the key issues of the day. The combination of racism, mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic, environmental rollbacks, tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and overt corruption are causing this presidency to implode. Trump has removed those with expertise from all levels of government. In their place he has given foxes the run of the hen house hiring fossil fuel industry advocates rather than qualified individuals. He has fought with allies like Canada while praising the dictators in Russia, North Korea and Brazil.

Support for systemic racism


As reflected by the protests across the U.S. it would appear that the systemic racism in Trump's America is being challenged by a vast swath of Americans. This is a president who has told his supporters to beat up protesters and called neo-Nazis and white supremacists "good people". In his fourth of July speech Trump denounced protestors while supporting monuments to Confederates who fought to defend their right to own slaves. Trump is trying to brand himself as the "law and order" president. However, drawing on Richard Nixon's political tactic from 1970 may not be the most effective strategy in 2020. America is far less racist than it was in 1970, or 2016. According to a June Washington Post-Schar School poll, 74 percent Of Americans support the George Floyd protests, and a majority disapprove of Trump’s handling of the race issue. Trump's anti-immigration position is also at odds with American voters. A recent Gallup poll found that for the first time, Americans want more immigration not less.

Failure to manage the pandemic


Trump has systematically opposed science and this contempt has been shown to undermine the national interest. Trump's disdain for truth has been challenged by COVID-19 which has spurred renewed interest in facts. Trump's failure to contain Covid-19 is adding to his political woes. He gutted the nation’s preparations to deal with pandemics like the coronavirus. Trump shut down the entire Global Health Security and Bio-defense agency and he fired Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossart, whose job was to coordinate a response to global pandemics. As the virus hit Trump proposed a 19 percent cut to the budget of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, a 10 percent cut to Public Health Services and a 7 percent cut to Global Health Services. Trump also directed the CDC to stop funding epidemic prevention activities in 39 out of 49 countries including China. He then ignored repeated warnings about COVID-19 and denied its existence calling it a hoax. When he could no longer deny the pandemic he slow-walked testing and encouraged opening the economy without the proper safeguards. Trump is trying to wish the coronavirus away repeatedly saying the situation is under control even though the American public knows the rates of infection are skyrocketing.

Environmental rollbacks


Trump's eradication of environmental protections have contributed to his abject failure to manage the coronavirus pandemic. Trump's gutting of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a reflection of an administration at war on wildlife. Trump and Republican's support for the fossil fuel industry further undermine the health of Americans and biodiversity. As reported by Outside Online, "Trump has led the most anti-nature presidency in U.S. history". That is the conclusion of an analysis published on May 21 by the Center for American Progress (CAP). The CAP analysis of the Trump presidency indicates that the total area of public lands that have already lost protections or which his administration is working to reduce protections for, amounts to almost 35 million acres. "President Trump is the only president in U.S. history to have removed more public lands than he protected," reads the analysis.

To add insult to injury, Trump is using the pandemic to help polluters. A recent executive order allows polluting projects like power plants and pipelines to forego proper environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act. In April Trump formally began to repeal the Clean Water Rule, that same month the EPA began allowing polluters to use COVID-19 as an excuse to stop monitoring and reporting on their pollution. In May Trump rolled back fuel efficiency standards known as "clean car standards". In June, EPA finalized a rule that will gut critical elements of the Clean Water Act and make it much more difficult for Indigenous groups, states, and the public to fight back against polluting projects like pipelines. At the same time the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue ordered the U.S. Forest Service to expedite environmental reviews which will increase logging and oil development on public lands. Also in June the Trump administration moved forward with its plans to remove wild bird protections thereby imperiling the lives of billions of birds. Finally, EPA chief Andrew Wheeler proposed weaker guidelines for industry under the Clean Air Act

While he dismantles environmental protections, Trump continues to hire people with agendas that are at odds with the mandates of the agencies and departments they are supposed to represent. Most recently Trump announced he will formally nominate William Perry Pendley to serve as director of the Bureau of Land Management. Pendley has extreme anti-environmental views and a long history of advocating the sale of federal lands.

Tax cuts, corruption, lies and immorality


Trumps only legislative accomplishment is a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. In their book, The Triumph of Injustice, the University of California at Berkeley economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman indicate these tax cuts pushed down the rate of taxation for the wealthiest Americans below the lower 50 percent of US earners. This means that rich people now pay less tax than poorer Americans. As reported by PBS, much of this support went to Trump's family and supporters.

A nonpartisan congressional body found that 81.8 percent of benefits from the Republican tax provision in the coronavirus relief package go to the nation's millionaires and billionaires and cost taxpayers an estimated $90 billion this year alone.

The corruption of Trump and the GOP is a matter of public record. The Trump administration and their supporters have amassed a slew of criminal indictments and convictions. This includes 37 criminal indictments, 7 criminal convictions, and 6 prison sentences. President Obama and his administration had none.

As a businessman Trump is a sham. This is a man who ran a fraudulent University, defrauded his own charity, made a business practice of stiffing his creditors. He is a con man, who has left a trail of bankruptcies in his wake. He has bragged about sexually abusing women and he mocks the disabled. He has called Latinos murderers and rapists and he handed out paper towels to people in dire need in Puerto-Rico after Hurricane Maria. This is a man who separated families fleeing violence and put children in cages.

Trump tried to stop books about him from being published, just as he his trying to conceal his taxes and his grades. The reason that Trump has lied more than 20,000 times since becoming president is because the truth is damning. The facts reveal his profound ineptitude and moral turpitude.

Growing Republican disagreement 


The president is focused like a laser on his base hoping that they will turn out in droves to support him in November. However, there are signs that this support is declining.  At his most recent rally in Tulsa there was a very disappointing turnout. A June PRRI poll indicates that Trump has lost significant ground with religious Americans.  The religious right is not the only place that Trump's base of support is slipping. Republican enthusiasm is down by five points since March according to polls from Fox News and Marist College.  Republican voters appear to be growing tired of his incompetence and the GOP sees his weakness and fears for their political future.

The waning support from Republican politicians has become increasingly apparent of late. Despite Trump's refusal to tell Americans to wear a mask, (On July 7, Trump's top aide said the White House is never likely to require all Americans to wear masks) lawmakers and governors are calling on Americans to do so. This includes one of Trump's most stalwart supporters Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. During a press conference announcing a package of police reforms, every Republican senator wore a mask. 

Recently three candidates endorsed by Trump lost their bid to seek the Republican nomination for their states. Rep. Scott Tipton in Colorado was defeated by his far-right challenger, in North Carolina Lynda Bennett was defeated by a political newcomer and in Virginia Rep. Denver Riggleman also lost. This suggests that Trump is out of touch even with his own constituents.

Contrary to the wishes of the president, Republican senators and House members are likely to pass a popular bill that would rename military bases currently named for Confederate soldiers.  Trump has promised to veto the bill, but it will likely pass with a veto-proof majority. The results of a Fox poll further confounds the president's reelection hopes. Democratic voters fear Trump much more than Republican voters fear Biden. Trump still has the support of Republicans but that support is slipping. Last week, a Hill-Harris X poll found he had an 82 percent approval rating among Republicans, down from 91 percent in May.

The courts, former employees, the military and veterans are turning against Trump


Despite appointing a record number of conservative judges, the courts have turned against Trump. Those who have worked with him are among his most vocal critics. This list includes everybody from John Bolten, his former National Security Advisor to his secretaries of defense. Trump’s effort to use the military to respond to nationwide protests has caused his current and former secretaries of Defense to publicly denounce the now infamous action in Lafayette park. Current Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he opposed using active-duty troops against protesters seeking justice after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. Former Defense Secretary James N. Mattis accused the president of ordering the military to "violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens."

Trump has also lost the support of some veterans. Most recently a veterans group called Trump a "traitor" over his failure to respond to Russian bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. "Putin owns Donald Trump," the organization wrote on Twitter, along with the #TRE45SON hashtag. The group also released a new video in which they said, "If you’re going to act like a traitor, you don’t get to thank us for our service."

As reported by the Military Times on August 31,  "In the latest results — based on 1,018 active-duty troops surveyed in late July and early August — nearly half of respondents (49.9 percent) had an unfavorable view of the president, compared to about 38 percent who had a favorable view."

Collapsing support


Trump has lost the support of women, and his support from Latinos, and African Americans has declined even further. As reviewed in an Atlantic article, even white voters are abandoning this president. Trump promised national pride and now a bit more than three years into his presidency polls reveal that national pride is at an all time low. Only 20 percent of Americans said they are satisfied with the way things are going.

In an interview on MSNBC, Steve Schmidt, who ran John McCain's 2008 campaign for president, reviewed the Trump presidency saying:
"Donald Trump has been the worst president this country has ever had. And I don't say that hyperbolically. He is. But he is a consequential president. And he has brought this country in three short years to a place of weakness that is simply unimaginable....When you listen to the President, these are the musings of an imbecile. An idiot. And I don't use those words to name call. I use them because they are the precise words of the English language to describe his behavior. His comportment. His actions. We've never seen a level of incompetence, a level of ineptitude so staggering on a daily basis by anybody in the history of the country whose ever been charged with substantial responsibilities...[T]he man who said he would make the country great again [has] brought death, suffering, and economic collapse on truly an epic scale. And let's be clear. This isn't happening in every country around the world. This place. Our place. Our home. Our country. The United States. We are the epicenter. We are the place where you're the most likely to die from this disease. We're the ones with the most shattered economy. And we are because of the fool that sits in the Oval Office behind the Resolute Desk."
More recently Schmidt said Trump's failure to respond to Russia paying bounties for American troops in Afghanistan "is the greatest dereliction of duty in the history of the United States by anybody charged with responsibility".

Trump and the GOP depend on disinformation to control the narrative and secure support, however, there is reason to believe that their efforts to game the system are faltering. Renewed interest in facts and science do not bode well for this president's bid for a second term. Trump's support is waning as it is becoming more and more obvious that this is a president who is on the wrong side of history. This constellation of factors suggest that the American electorate may soon bring Trump's presidency to an end.

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