45’s election strategy becomes increasingly apparent. The writing is on the wall. He can no longer win and he knows it. Since rallies are nearly impossible to have, even in his favorite locations, e.g., Tulsa, or hosting a meaningful convention or appearing in public without a mask as he did yesterday while on a visit to Walter Reade Medical Center, his effectiveness at campaigning is questionable. The polling numbers are awful. Even in states which were solidly red, Senate races between longtime incumbents and democratic newbies are neck and neck. As the coronavirus epidemic rages out-of-control, with 135,000+ dead, dire predictions for the Fall include death-tolls over 200,000 and millions of new infections. The same people who drank the Koolaide poo-pooing social distancing and face masks appear each day in obituaries of the recently deceased.
There are two consistent actions Trump is taking regarding the election. First, he has refocused his efforts on what the legal landscape looks like, particularly in New York, where most of the post-election indictments will be generated. Here is where AG William Barr does his dirty work. Firing U.S. Attorney Berman protects Rudy Guiliani from current investigations but sidetracks ongoing investigations into Trump and Trump friends. Both the SDNY and EDNY are under attack from the DOJ. One could argue that commuting Roger Stone’s sentence yesterday was not too bright in this regard, but of more immediate concern was making sure Stone does not suddenly have memory recall of the Russian meetings and Wikileaks emails rather than worrying about becoming personally culpable for a self-serving presidential pardon.
Second, Trump is replacing his endless stream of campaign rallies with as much chaos as possible. No idea is too vile. If it is reprehensible, divisive, and cruel, it is now worthy of consideration. It began with him hauling out the Bible and declaring that ‘we control the streets.’ Yesterday ICE announced plans to offer a six-day “citizens academy” course to train people in what ICE does, including the arrest of immigrants. “You have been identified as a valued member of the community who may have an interest in participating in the inaugural class of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Chicago Citizens Academy,” read a letter from ICE Chicago Field Office Director Robert Guadian. The program will “serve as a pilot for nationwide implementation.” The course will include training in “defensive tactics, firearms familiarization, and targeted arrests,” according to the letter. All over the country, aggressive voter suppression tactics have escalated. With our broken judicial system, Trump increasingly finds it is easier to ask forgiveness, than get permission. Just ask Stacey Abrams. By the time anyone can do anything about the blatant disregard for the Constitution, the election is over, and millions of disenfranchised voters have no say in how their government runs.
Pay particularly close attention to how this administration handles the coronavirus epidemic from this point going forward. If their actions seem unusually stupid and misguided, it is this election strategy at work. This turn of events is a Hail Mary pass, a long shot with little hope of success. Cause so much divisiveness and chaos that this dysfunctional country cannot hold a fair election. Create so much anarchy that 45 can, at some point, throw up his hands and declare as he calls off the election altogether, “The election is just too broken. We cannot, in good faith, fairly choose a winner. I will continue to preside over this country, and we will try again sometime soon to hold elections.” We must not allow that to happen.