President Trump delivered exactly what he promised: division and disruption, hatred and racism.
After witnessing the still-smoldering consequences, can America really choose four more years of his sad and destructive agenda? It comes down to numbers that may not show up in polls — only in hearts that reveal themselves on Election Day.
How many Americans were sickened by Derek Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s neck — and how many were thrilled? How many people watched burning cities across the country in response to Floyd’s death and saw a need for national soul-searching and deep systemic change? How many only saw a threat to their dominance, stirred up by outside agitators who must be beaten down and quelled?
How many Americans long for a leader with compassion and empathy, not to mention maturity and the capacity to admit mistakes? How many want a leader who respects and understands the beauty of the First Amendment? How many others are just fine with a mean, petty wannabe tyrant who retreats to a bunker when protesters gather outside the White House? One who has no words to bring us together, only tweets to stoke even more division, disruption, hatred, and racism?
The country has exploded in the week since Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, was captured on video with his knee on the neck of an unarmed Black man. Chauvin cruelly kept that position for nearly nine minutes as Floyd, who was arrested for allegedly passing a $20 counterfeit bill, pleaded for breath and then became limp and unresponsive. After Floyd’s death stirred anger and demonstrations, Chauvin was fired and now faces a third-degree murder charge. The three fellow officers who were on the scene and did nothing to stop him were also fired and may yet face criminal charges.
Floyd’s death triggered nationwide protests — including in Boston — about the racism and inequities baked into America’s institutions and history. It came as the country, egged on by Trump, also showed a callous willingness to put the economy over the health and safety of Black and Latino Americans, who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, which assessed Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, former vice president Joe Biden leads Trump 53 percent to 43 percent among registered voters nationally. However, Biden’s lead shrinks to 51 percent to 46 percent when results are limited to those who say they are certain to vote. The poll doesn’t measure reaction to the past weekend of violent protests.
How vulnerable is Trump? The poll, which was conducted between May 25 and 28, shows that 84 percent of Trump backers are enthusiastic about supporting him and 64 percent are “very enthusiastic.” Biden’s supporters are less sold on him, with 74 percent saying they are enthusiastic and 31 percent saying they are “very enthusiastic” about backing him.
What could account for the continued enthusiasm of Trump backers?
Well, as the coronavirus pandemic raged, Trump’s border wall plans marched forward. Meanwhile, Trump refused to accept any responsibility for the nation’s delay in reacting to the coronavirus health crisis, and instead blamed two favorite targets, China and Barack Obama.
By threatening to cut US ties with the World Health Organization, Trump pulled America ever more inward. Meanwhile, he continues to attack the press as the enemy of the people, and recently tweeted false conspiracy theories about the death of a woman who worked for Joe Scarborough when the MSNBC cable host was a Republican congressman from Florida.
Without a leader working to bring us together during a health crisis, the country divided between the masked and mask-less, And without a leader working to bring us together after the police brutality that took Floyd’s life, we are further ripped apart.
Is the country better than Trump? I hope so. In the end, all the words spoken and written about the past few days will mean nothing. The numbers on Election Day will tell the truth. Either we reject Trump’s agenda of division, disruption, hate, and racism, or we are forever defined by it.