By Robert A. Vella
In 1992, economic concerns were the primary election issue among Americans heading into the final two months of the presidential campaign. In 2004, it was national security and war. In 2012, it was whether or not Barack Obama deserved a second term as president following the 2008 financial crisis which propelled him into the White House. Those are some of the usual issues which typify presidential election campaigns; but, that is definitely not the case this year.
As we enter the final stretch of 2020 campaign, there are three major issues facing voters:
- Will the coronavirus pandemic get worse in the autumn and winter months, and is President Trump capable enough or willing enough to stop it?
- How serious of a threat is posed by the rise of overt racism across the country being fueled by President Trump and his rabid supporters?
- Is democracy dead, is dictatorship preferable, and how much political power should any one man hold in a constitutional republic?
These questions will have to be answered by all Americans regardless of their beliefs and whom they plan to vote for. It is a profound responsibility which will test the moral and ethical fabric of the nation. If it fails, there will be no going back – not anytime soon, anyway. After Germany jumped into the abyss of fascism in 1932, it enjoyed a brief moment of euphoric nationalism before suffering complete devastation while causing the most destructive and atrocious war in human history. Personal mistakes are always costly in one form or another, and big mistakes can be catastrophic. That is the nature of life, and no tears will be shed for those who choose wrongly.
So, that is the focus of our post-Labor Day kickoff coverage. I’d like to note that an observation made on this blog several weeks ago about whether Donald Trump‘s electoral fortunes rest upon public support for Republicans, or vice versa, has been supported by political analysis of opinion polls (see the story later in this post).
The United States has a narrow window to force the coronavirus into a partial retreat before the one-two punch of school openings and colder weather brings a widely feared rebound.
It’s blowing it, again.
Until vaccines and drugs arrive — and top scientists say they aren’t as imminent as President Donald Trump keeps promising — the tools to fight the virus remain the same: testing, masks, all the things Americans have been hearing about but not always doing since March. They are crucial right now. New cases have fallen from the pandemic’s second peak this summer, creating a brief chance to wrestle the caseload lower — not to zero, but low enough to blunt the impact of the new infections expected this fall.
“We could be on our way to much less infection,” said Nicole Lurie, who was HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response in the Obama administration.
But the Trump White House isn’t doubling down on Public Health 101, even as new hot spots emerge, in both the South and the Upper Midwest. Trump devoted only a few sentences to basic precautions in his pre-Labor Day weekend press briefing, followed by the upbeat assessment that “we’re really rounding the turn.” He is relying on a new adviser, Scott Atlas, a conservative physician he saw on Fox News who doesn’t have a background in public health or infectious disease but holds views aligning with Trump’s desire for faster and broader economic reopenings.
The Proud Boys had driven to Salem from a pro-Trump vehicle rally at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City on Monday afternoon, the Associated Press reported.
In Salem, they joined a crowd of several dozen Trump supporters outside the Oregon State Capitol and were met by a smaller group of Black Lives Matter counter-demonstrators.
Videos posted on social media showed the Proud Boys repeatedly bull rushing the Black Lives Matter group and attacking at least two counter-demonstrators.
According to the Associated Press, the far-right group also fired paint-gun pellets at the Black Lives Matter counter-protesters, who dispersed shortly after police arrived.
One man was seen hit in the back of the head with a baseball bat and knocked to the ground after being rushed by a group of Proud Boys in a video posted on Twitter by Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter Sergio Olmos.
He was then seen being repeatedly punched in the face by another Proud Boy and then maced in the face by a woman.
According to Olmos, police arrived and told the Proud Boys to turn around, but no arrests were made at that time.
Olmos later tweeted that two men were arrested for attacking the Black Lives Matter protester, but both were released from custody not long after being detained.
Faithful America, which describes itself as the largest online community of grassroots Christians acting for social justice, announced the new effort and its largest-ever team expansion with four new organizers hired on Tuesday. In a press release emailed to Newsweek, the organization explained that it plans to “foster at least 11,000 deep, faith-based conversations about the moral values at stake in this election,” with a budget of $65,000.
Reverend Nathan Empsall, Faithful America’s campaigns director, explained in a statement emailed to Newsweek that this is the first time the organization has chosen to become directly involved in election activity.
“Donald Trump is not a normal president, which means that our approach to this election cannot be normal, either. We’re taking this new approach to relational organizing because our faith is deep, and our organizing must be deep too,” Empsall said.
Empsall explained that members of his organization believe Trump and Republicans have “distorted” the Gospel message of Christianity to serve a “hateful, right-wing agenda.” The reverend said the group’s message is that “people of faith can and should vote with love and hope, not hatred and discrimination.”
(Bloomberg) — The Nelson Mandela Foundation criticized reported remarks by U.S. President Donald Trump that denigrated the former South African leader.
The Washington Post reported Sunday that Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and personal fixer, alleged in a new book that the U.S. president did not think Mandela was a real leader and that South Africa had deteriorated under his rule. The Post said Trump also praised the country’s apartheid-era rule.
“We do not believe that leaders who conduct themselves in the way Mr. Trump does are in a position to offer authoritative commentary on the life and work” of Mandela, the foundation said in a statement on its website.
Trump’s extraordinary comments come as several defense officials tell CNN relations between the President and Pentagon leadership are becoming increasingly strained.
They also followed efforts by Trump to convince the public that he had not made a series of reported disparaging remarks about US military personnel and veterans, which were first reported by The Atlantic magazine.
A former senior administration official confirmed to CNN that Trump referred to fallen US service members at the Aisne-Marne cemetery in crude and derogatory terms during a November 2018 trip to France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Other outlets, including Fox News, have confirmed much of The Atlantic’s reporting, which Trump and the White House vehemently deny.
From: The three writers who could cost Trump the 2020 election (opinion) [The Secular Jurist asks: What about Mary Trump?]
From Jeffrey Goldberg’s Atlantic article, which alleges that President Donald Trump referred to soldiers who died in battle as “suckers” and “losers” — a claim Trump denies — to Michael Cohen’s book that paints the President as a bigot, a liar and a fraud, the avalanche of negative news for the President is coming at the worst possible time for him: less than 60 days before Election Day.
And let’s not forget that Bob Woodward, the legendary Washington Post reporter, is due out with a book next week that is likely to add to the President’s headache.
The analysis, based on Reuters/Ipsos national opinion polling from May to August and 2016 exit poll data, found that Trump has lost support among non-college educated whites, who made up 44% of the U.S. electorate four years ago and heavily favored the Republican over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Trump is still more popular with this group than Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, with 46% saying they would vote for Trump, compared with 34% who back Biden. But his 12-point advantage in August is down from a 21-point lead in May, and well below the 34-point advantage he had over Clinton. https://tmsnrt.rs/2ZajmYu
What is more worrisome for Trump, however, is that the constituency’s commitment to voting has remained flat this year, while interest has risen among groups that lean toward Democrats: minorities, women, urban and suburban residents and people with below-average incomes.
The data suggests that this time, there will be greater pressure on the Republican Party – and not the Democratic Party – to boost voter turnout to win.