by Daniel A. Kaufman
Now that we find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic, I trust that it is clear why Donald Trump must not be re-elected. The lack of curiosity; the tic-like self-promotion; the persecution complex; the weird logorrhea; the juvenile baiting and pissing contests; the fundamental lack of any substantial conviction… One might have thought it obvious that these are never desirable traits in a Chief Executive, but the 2016 election demonstrated that for a good number of people, this is not obvious. Surely, though, the current crisis and Trump’s disastrous handling of it will render things in sharp relief, right? Focus our attention; help us to drop all the irrelevancies and distractions and devote ourselves to defeating this awful man?
Perhaps not. Having failed to heed my earlier advice to the Democrats to stash AOC and the rest of the “squad” in an undisclosed location for an indefinite period of time, AOC came out with a video suggesting that people were racist for failing to frequent Chinese restaurants, just as coronavirus fears in the United States were beginning to surge. Not long after, she posted a message on Twitter saying that people shouldn’t go to restaurants at all. Parsing this required a hermeneutical analysis, beyond the abilities of most. And despite my warning to my fellow partymen and women to drop our obsession with identity politics, Democratic activists all over social media are fiercely debating whether it is racist to refer to the coronavirus as the “Chinese” or “Wuhan” virus. The other day during a press conference, a reporter tried lobbing this one at Trump, who promptly, predictably (proverbially) smashed her face in with it. Now, just two days later, Trump’s poll numbers are up. Earlier in the campaign, Elizabeth Warren swore that her Education Secretary would be vetted and ultimately chosen by, a transgender child, only to top herself not long after by saying that transwomen of color are the backbone of democracy. Later, when her campaign collapsed under the collective weight of these and other such sublime pronouncements, the usual suspects in my profession (i.e. the woke brigade) insisted loudly, across social media, that her failure obviously was due to misogyny. Alas, they hardly were the only ones.
It appears that my party is preparing itself, once again, to march headlong into a humiliating and catastrophic defeat; one that will be a thousandfold more humiliating and catastrophic than the last one, in light of the circumstances. It was bad enough that we couldn’t beat Trump in 2016, given the extent to which his venality, vulgarity, and degeneracy were not just publicly documented but on constant display, but imagine the shame in losing to him now, during a deadly pandemic whose effects will be all the worse because of his inept bumbling and dissembling and posturing, early on. It would be like losing a fistfight with a 90 year old man hooked up to an oxygen tank, barely capable of standing up with the aid of a walker. The party won’t survive it.
As a public service, then, I offer this second round of advice to the Democrats on the ongoing presidential campaign. As was the case last time, this is hardnosed political advice, not expressions of agreement or disagreement with any particular set of policies. The only purpose for engaging in electoral politics is to win elections so that one can govern. In this case, that means defeating Trump and taking the presidency away from the Republicans. The following represent my thoughts as to some of the things we must do (and not do) if we are to achieve that goal.
(1) Immediately cease all discussions of the ways in which various characterizations of the coronavirus are racist.
(2) If anyone starts talking about “queering” the coronavirus or any other such thing, sequester them straightaway in the undisclosed location you should have put AOC and the “squad” in.
(3) Put the global warming, climate change (or whatever it’s called now) stuff on hold. People are in no mood for it. When times are good, as they have been for decades, people crave a little apocalypticism for much the same reason that we enjoy a good horror movie. Fear is titillating … so long as it is hypothetical. But when one actually is in extremis, the enthusiasm for this sort of thing evaporates quickly.
(4) Find some way to get rid of Bernie Sanders, and don’t let him come back. Also, tell the so-called “Bernie Bros” to f*#k off. They are an unpleasant bunch and are far more interested in harassing people and landing sick burns than actually voting (as the primaries have demonstrated).
(5) Don’t talk about anything, right now, except for how best to deal with the coronavirus and its myriad and catastrophic secondary and tertiary effects. Do so entirely in a positive vein of common cause. Do not, under any circumstances, try to score partisan points off of it or use it as an excuse to try and ram through unrelated or only distantly related spending projects. People’s patience for that sort of thing is thin, generally and paper thin right now.
(6) Do not get in Trump’s way of making himself look terrible. Do not give people any reason to be sympathetic with him. Do not lampoon him as he lurches from one disastrous press conference to the next. Let him spend the next months talking and gesticulating himself into an electoral defeat.
(7) Take this opportunity to reset and reconsider our commitments. I especially would reconsider where we stand with regard to identity politics and globalization as these strike me as being two significant, current commitments that are likely to age poorly in the wake of this pandemic.