It has not gone unnoticed that Donald Trump has mentioned the Second Amendment in urging protesters to “liberate” their states from stay-at-home orders designed to stop the spread of COVID-19.
What do guns have to do with it? Is Trump inciting insurrection?
As Trump supporters demand access to bowling alleys, gyms and tattoo and massage parlors and insist on their right to assemble without social distancing or masks, the president forgot his own guidance that reopening nonessential business should wait until each state has had 14 days of declines in new cases of the deadly virus.
In Arizona, a protester carried a sign that said, “give me liberty or give me death.” Exactly.
As Trump’s trustworthiness with American voters dropped to 36% because of his incompetence in dealing with the pandemic, Democrats are increasingly worried that Trump will stop at nothing to gain reelection.
Would he cancel or postpone the November presidential election, when the nation also is set to decide which party controls the Senate and the House?
Nearly one out of four Americans say it would be fine with them if the November presidential election is delayed and Trump stays in the White House indefinitely.
While that may seem preposterous, Trump insists he has “total” authority and “calls the shots.” On his own, he plans to freeze immigration into the U.S. for 60 days. And he is clearly furious over the possibility of more mail-in voting.
Democrats are trying to get $3.6 billion for mail-in voting in case there is another spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths, making the quadrennial ritual of going to the polls a dicey proposition. Trump is adamantly opposed.
Trump repeatedly comments on state voting procedures. Recently, he ranted against Wisconsin’s governor for trying to delay in-person voting to keep his constituents safe. Trump rejoiced when the state supreme court and then the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the governor. (Trump wanted a conservative judge elected in Wisconsin; voters, who stood for hours exposed to rain and the virus, thwarted him.) Now, voters are testing positive for the virus.
Trump is in full-throated mode against mail-in voting, although there is only one known case of fraudulent use. A number of states, the military and travelers use it as a safe alternative to not voting or taking off work.
Virginia just enacted a law letting more people vote early by absentee ballots without need for an excuse, declaring Election Day a state holiday and getting rid of restrictive voter ID laws. But many states, pushed by Trump, are making voting harder.
Nationally, 80% of Americans favor early voting, 71% favor extending registration periods and 73% approve of voting by mail.
Trump is focusing ever more intently on staying in power. He held a rally in March despite the pandemic, and his campaign has raised $212 million in the first three months of 2020.
Trump has even made a political football out of the supply chain for vital testing for COVID-19, considered essential if businesses start to reopen. Republican and Democrat governors say they can’t continue to compete with each other, the federal government and, indeed, the whole world for swabs, collection tubes, lancets, alcohol swabs, cartridges, testing machines and reagents. So far only 1.3% of the American population has been tested, one of the lowest rates in the world.
The possibility that Trump could lose in November because the economy has tanked and because he was accused of being weeks late in taking the pandemic seriously prompted him to show a campaign video of self-praise made at taxpayer expense. It was at a White House virus-update briefing in which he berated Democratic governors, railed against the World Health Organization and demonized the press.
It is illegal to use government resources for reelection purposes.
Every day Trump uses COVID-19 briefings to tell us how great he is, how aggrieved he is and to believe him when he says up is down and day is night. “A lot of people love me. I think we’re going to win in a landslide,” he said.
But 52% of Americans have concluded Trump’s word is not worth much.
When Trump says he initiated a travel ban between the U.S. and China, it should be remembered that it was too late to prevent 430,000 people arriving from China after the epidemic started. Trump refused to call for a national economic lockdown; he left shelter-in-place orders up to states, and thousands in rural red areas are now becoming infected.
Also, the Second Amendment has nothing to do with the response to COVID-19. Nor should it.
— Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at firstname.lastname@example.org.