Point of View Columns

A Day in the Life of America

July 30, 2020

4,427,493 –150, 716 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Sometime early this morning Trump decided to do yet one more thing that no president has ever seriously considered. Tweeting his concern about the fable of potential fraud in mail in voting in November, he mused that it might be useful to postpone the election. The fact that no president has even suggested that elections should be moved even during the Civil War or World War I or World War II should be reason enough to consider Trump to be uttering pure madness.

But that would be a mistake. Dismissing Trump as mad, an idiot, an ignorant Neanderthal. He may be all of these things, but he is clearly high functioning and tens of millions of MAGA hat wearing/bleach drinking/no mask wearing supporters will follow him lemming-like over the cliff toward authoritarianism. The message from his message – do not ignore or dismiss him, consider the danger and prepare to defend the system.

And of course, it may be that this particular mud ball was hurled in order to distract Americans from the worst economic news – the largest decline in the GDP of the United States in history. And we once again realize that Trumpadamus was looking into the future when, on January 20, 2017, Trump declared that when he looked at the United States he saw “American carnage”.

Of course there was no carnage then, but there is now. Fifty million Americans have lost their jobs, over 4 million Americans are infected with the COVID-19 pandemic and ov150,000 Americans have died and by Election Day the number is trending towards at least a quarter of a million. Discontent and protest is surging through the country in response to the systemic racism that Trump so eloquently represents and the status of this country abroad is at its lowest point since some time in the 19th century.

So yes – “American carnage” it is.

And then there was the sublime aspect of the day. The funeral of John Lewis at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the pastoral home of both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. There could be no more fitting venue for the home going celebration of the life of a great man. Three former presidents were there – George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama – Jimmy Carter, who is 95, did not attend for obvious health concerns but he did send a message. It goes without saying that Trump did not attend.

If he had, it would have been as if a disheveled drunken uncle showed up at a wedding celebration. He would have been admitted, but he would not have been welcome.

To his credit, Trump’s prejudice and bigotry guided him to make the right choice and let the world know what he thought of John Lewis and the ideals which guided his life. Trump could have sent Vice President Pence, or Ben Carson, the only Black member of his cabinet, or at least a faux letter of condolences in the fashion of the inimitable Senator Marco Rubio who posted a photograph of Elijah Cummings when “mourning” the death of John Lewis on Twitter.

But true to his racist heart he did nothing – not even a passing mention at his press conference later in the day.

And, to say that Barack Obama’s eulogy was eloquent would be beyond understatement. In addition to honoring John Lewis he also reaffirmed the commitment to dignity and justice that has been obscured by the orange clouds emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And in honoring John Lewis he also honored the movement towards racial justice which existed before John Lewis was born and continues after his death.

Obama clearly enumerated the epic levels of injustice including police brutality and the suppression of Black votes. He pulled no rhetorical punches and his call to action was loud and clear. John Lewis would have been proud to know that his legacy, and that of so many others, would continue and prevail.

And last but not certainly not least, Obama reminded us of what a President looks like. He reminded us of what presidential leadership looks like. And he made America how far we have fallen during the Trump regime.

During his press conference Trump recited a series of statistics to make us ignore that although this country has 5% of the world’s population, we have 25% of the global COVID-19 cases. He spoke about PPE’s in the hundreds of thousands when that might be the requirement for a single major U.S. city in a single week.

Indeed, the more he spoke, disjointedly and scarily detached, the more concerned we should be that the ship of state is being steered by a captain who is totally incapable of getting the ship to safe harbor.

November 3rd. cannot come soon enough.

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