Here are some stark data points that the Right has yet to accept:
Lastly, there’s this:
Given these facts, how is it that the Republican Party has become the party of anti-vaxxers (who represent a meager 22 percent of the overall American population), of COVID denialism, and consequently, anti-mask (or any reasonable precaution against what is likely a Chinese bioweapon)?
The answers to these questions are infuriating for anyone, such as this author, who was an early and ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump.
I remind you all that my friend, F.H. Buckley, was involved early on with the Trump Campaign in 2016 and has probably the best take on what Donald Trump represented at that time: a clean break with the Ayn Rand-loving, cold-hearted, downright vicious Libertarian wing of the Republican Party and the creation of a kinder, more caring, Workers’ Party…
After all, it was Mr. Trump who unfortunately cast doubt as to the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic in his final year in office–even going so far as to admit to Washington Post writer, Bob Woodward, that he wanted from the start of the pandemic to “downplay” the disease.
And while one should certainly hold Woodward’s reportage on anything as painfully out-of-context, there are a retinue of statements by the former president himself which clearly indicated his inability to come to grips with the reality–and threat–of the novel coronavirus during his last year in office.
Make no mistake: this pandemic is the reason behind Trump’s electoral defeat in 2020. It was not because of a “stolen” election, as Trump and so many of his devout followers claim.
These claims are mostly baseless–and this is according to Trump Administration officials, such as former Attorney General William Barr.
Further, Trump surrogates, such as Rudy Giuliani, Mike Lindell, and Sidney Powell are today all at risk of being sued by Dominion Voting Systems to the tune of $1 billion because their (and the former president’s) election fraud claims were so groundless.
In recent months, you’ve seen a wave of necessary retractions and ass-coverings take place on a host of conservative networks such as this:
So, too, has both FOX News and its sister network, Fox Business, been made to issue some caveats to their reportage of the election fraud claims made by the former president.
All because the legal system has rightly said that anyone commenting on the election fraud claims, specifically those who misrepresent the(non) involvement of Dominion Voting in the 2020 presidential election, will be open to a massively expensive defamation lawsuit.
And as for “STOLEN ELECTION” claims…the only area of concern was found in the changes that 9 states–including Washington, D.C.–made to their election laws and standards to make the 2020 election “COVID friendly.” Essentially, these states in 2020 decided to lower their standards for voting rules, specifically in regards to “mail-in” ballots. In so doing, these states potentially opened their voting processes to corruption, fraud, abuse, and downright mistakes.
Rather than challenge these questionable moves by the states in early 2020 when the changes occurred, though, the Trump Administration opted instead to ignore these moves. President Trump instead decided to orchestrate his own version of election meddling when he attempted to dismantle the US Postal Service.
The real question should be: if the former president was truly convinced of election fraud, why in the Hell did he not simply use the overwhelming power of his Department of Justice to sue those states and initiate a federal investigation into the efficacy of the COVID-related election changes before the 2020 election took place?
The election fraud claims were obviously weak otherwise the historically litigious Trump would have happily sued his way into stopping those election changes before the votes were counted rather than waging a desperate, doomed-to-fail legal battle after the voting had occurred in 2020. What really mattered to voters was not phantom voting fraud. Instead, it was the pandemic and its impact on the safety and health of their communities and the overall economy.
Therefore, these are the figures that most mattered to voters in 2020:
In the last year, because of COVID and the Trump Administration’s failure to respond adequately to the pandemic (or, at least appearing to have poorly responded to it) 1 in every 500 US residents have died of COVID-19…
The economy tanked unlike anything experienced since the Great Depression…
And once the economy collapsed and outright uncertainty reigned supreme over the land, the American people were pretty much done with the gonzo Manhattan real estate mogul-turned-reality-television-star-turned-president. He appeared unmatched to the once-in-a-generation challenge of a pandemic.
In the eyes of most voters, Trump added more instability to an already chaotic situation.
Fact is, Trump’s favorability (or lack thereof) was always a weakness of his–a weakness that was only overcome by the fact that the economy was, from 2017-19, doing so well for so many Americans (and it was)…
With the economy gone and with Trump appearing completely unhinged during his daily COVID press conferences, Trump had nothing left.
Billed as an unconventional politician; a purely transactional candidate, once Trump stopped yielding the results that people liked, the forty-fifth president had nothing to fall back upon.
The transaction between Trump and the slim majority of voters who elected him in 2016 collapsed and, understandably, most voters sent the Orange Man packing in 2020.
Not to toot my own horn but, as early as 2018, I was warning Republicans to take Joe Biden and the Democratic Party seriously…
Of course, the managers of “MAGA, Inc.” mocked me and wrote scurrilous attacks in the press in response to my writings. While I did not predict a novel pandemic in 2018, I did believe that Biden would be as unlikely of a candidate as Trump…and that Biden’s favorability in 2020 would be higher than Trump’s.
In that article, I wrote:
Again, in the pages of American Greatness (it was subsequently syndicated in the pages of The Spectator), I cautioned readers:
In that piece, I lamented:
These negative aspects of Trump that were merely headaches in 2019 became absolutely destructive for the former president and his campaign during the COVID pandemic in 2020.
Again, I warned the “MAGA, Inc.” crowd in 2020 about the failure of Trump’s COVID response…
Few people listened.
In fact, the lunatics with the biggest Twitter following on the Right got the megaphone and ensured that the former president abandoned his natural germaphobia in favor of stilted Boomer Libertarianism–all because of these voices.
It also didn’t help that the shadow president, Jared Kushner, apparently told his father-in-law in April 2020, the height of the pandemic in 2020, that they needed to get the country “back from the doctors” and move to the “comeback phase.”
Not because Kushner believed the disease had been mitigated. It clearly had not been at that point contained. But because Kushner adhered to the old Clintonian saw that politics was nothing more than the “economy, stupid!”
Kushner was right in a general sense: the moment the economy collapsed under Trump’s reign, his campaign for reelection was over. Where I believe Mr. Kushner and so many others on the Trump side of the political spectrum got their interpretation of that old saw wrong was that the Clintonian axiom could not work in a pandemic.
How can one restore an economy when the people of that economy–the essential human capital–were being afflicted with what was, at that point, an unknown and incurable, highly virulent illness?
Trump was not a Clintonian technocrat–at least not when he initially ran in 2016. Trump was much more of a regime-shifting figure, like FDR. And like FDR, Trump would have thrived as a crisis manager.
COVID could have been Trump’s coup de grace. Instead, it became his Waterloo. And his loudest supporters on Twitter and in the Right-Wing media encouraged his worst instincts. Trump quickly devolved from an FDR-in-waiting to a failed president on the level of Andrew Johnson, James Buchanan, Herbert Hoover, or Jimmy Carter.
Trump became convinced that downplaying and ignoring the virus would force voters to focus on his previous economic successes. Yet, this was an utterly asinine idea, considering that the economy had completely collapsed by the time the presidential campaign was in high-gear in 2020.
Americans didn’t care about how well they were doing until December 2019. What mattered was how awful and uncertain everything had become by the middle of 2020.
Trump appeared insane to most “normie” voters. Suddenly, the sclerotic Biden seemed to be the steady hand to lead the country through its crucible. Rather than accept that Trump failed the ultimate test of presidential leadership; that he associated his chances for reelection with pandemic denialism, Republicans kept banging away at the vaccine denialism.
And when that got them disassociated from reality enough, once Trump lost, Republicans everywhere doubled-down on the mania and began believing that the entire election was rigged!
We were told to prepare for Sidney Powell and Trump’s legal team to release a legal Kraken of evidence proving that he had been cheated. We never got that.
What’s become all-too-apparent is that Trump got burned by his failure to adequately respond to a national crisis–and to be seen as responsibly responding by the scared voting public–and rather than admit this both Trump and the GOP came to believe the only way they lost was because of a secret army of hackers in Germany manipulating vote tallies.
Republicans lost because they broke from reality. And most Americans can see this. The Trump movement was predicated upon giving ordinary voters their country back. MAGA was supposed to be about restoring respect from the political class for the common American voter.
The common voter saw what Trump was doing and did not like it. That is why they voted overwhelmingly against him. For Republicans to win again, they need to stop trying to prove that COVID is “just the flu”, that vaccines are unsafe, and that the election was stolen.
They need to stop being crazier than the Democrats.
And despite Trump’s schizophrenic response to COVID, there can be little doubt that the innovative vaccines Americans now have access to today would not have been available had Mr. Trump not spurred their creation, thanks to his Operation Warp Speed. Even President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 senior adviser credited former President Trump with setting the Biden Administration–and America–up for success with vaccinations with Operation Warp Speed.
You wouldn’t know that listening to most of the Trump supporters. Even when former President Trump finally galvanized himself to speak necessary truth about vaccines to a crowd of his supporters recently, he was booed:
Sadly, this incredible feat of science–a testament to the kind of public-private cooperation that Marianna Mazzucato has dubbed, “when Adam Smith shook John Maynard Keynes’ hand”–that was directly brought about by Trump Administration policies will be forever forgotten by the voting public.
Instead, what will be remembered are the bizarre anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. What Republicans will fixate on will be the unintelligent Twitter musings of Nicki Minaj (who was hated until five minutes ago by most of those “Conservatives” for her grotesque W.A.P. song).
The crazy and dumb ones from our political parties are given the biggest platforms in America today. But the normal people–the real “silent majority”–will continue to live quietly and vote according to their interests. This explains Trump’s defeat. Sadly, it appears that Republicans will be removed from this equation.
And for my last bit of this article: the source of COVID. As I wrote in The Washington Times last year:
Specifically, I wrote:
Former President Trump was correct when he referred to COVID-19 as the, “Chinese Virus.” Sadly, that narrative was drowned out by the anti-vaccination storyline Trump favored. It was a missed opportunity to further unite the country around a real and growing threat: Communist China.
The Biden Administration has yet to pick up this storyline and run with it. I doubt that they will. So China gets away with infecting the world and using the chaos caused by that pandemic to further their own national power and prestige. Meanwhile, Americans fight each other over anti-vaccine lies and science denialism.
This could have all been avoided had Trump just embraced the truth. Had he turned into the crisis rather than running from it. Most Americans intuitively understand the failure of Trump. They may entertain thoughts of his return.
Some may even ultimately vote for him in 2024 when he runs (likely with Ron DeSantis as his running-mate). But, unless the country is truly in a financial crisis and Biden has truly become unpopular because of that, 2024 will go much as 2020 did for Trump.
From now on, Republicans must fight against the lies. They must not only accept the sad reality of COVID but in doing so, they must forge a new national security consensus.
Republicans must explicitly charge China with responsibility for this plague and vow to punish them accordingly–all while reminding audiences of the stunning speed which GOP policies allowed for the vaccines to be created in the United States. That’s the way forward.
Unfortunately, between the GOP’s official vaccine skepticism and overall COVID denialism, Trump’s continual drumbeat of “stolen election” claims, and now, Larry Elder’s sad repetition of Trumpy “stolen election” claims in the recent (failed) California gubernatorial recall, it appears as though the GOP wants to lose some more.
This, as President Biden is the weakest any Democratic president has been in their first year, what with massive inflation, an economy teetering on the brink, a disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, and a failure to pass his landmark “Build Back Better” infrastructure plan in a mostly friendly Congress.
None of these failures or weaknesses on Biden’s part will be fatal to his presidency, though, if the GOP keeps acting like maniacs looking to burn the place down.
There is no going back to pre-2020 standards. Not for a while, at least. Republicans used to be the party of empiricism. We used to believe in facts. Let’s go back to that. We must embrace pandemic politics and drop the “stolen election” narrative…or lose bigly.