Antifa still hasn’t taken over Seattle as much as Trump might wish it, since Boeing is still not the #CHAZ state airplane company, nor has Amazon been nationalized. Trump’s alternate reality imagines some radical left left over from Nixon’s paranoia and Reagan’s red-baiting.
Because the Trumpist base will remember the all-caps SHOUTING, rather than the 115,000 COVID deaths and the spikes in hospitalizations.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 14, 2020
Trump’s America isn’t Putin’s Russia — yet — and it won’t be so easy for Trump as long as American elections remain free and fair. Unlike Richard Nixon in 1968, Trump can’t run as a “law and order” candidate against a crumbling status quo. He’s the incumbent, and it’s awkward for the sitting president of the United States to run on promising to clean up the messes created by his own administration and his own party. Are you healthier than you were four years ago?Then Trump’s white knights arrived in the form of rioters, looters and the mostly Democratic mayors and governors who are unable, or unwilling, to control them. The Trump administration is eager to blame “Antifa” for the violence to create a bogeyman worthy of fearmongering and an authoritarian response. His “Democrats won’t protect you” message gains strength when a swath of Seattle is occupied by protesters.Whether the rioters are disgruntled leftists, criminal gangs, opportunistic anarchists or anyone else, they are just what Trump was hoping for. Or perhaps they are what he was praying for during his ridiculous Bible-waving photo-op in a church in D.C. Unable to demonize a virus, unable to speak credibly about racial justice or police violence, Trump finally had a viable target — and plenty of ad-friendly video clips of masked looters, smashed property and frightened citizens.Trump desperately needs conflict and chaos, anything to distract from his coronavirus failure and to scare swing voters in the Midwest into embracing the devil they know. Recall how many people were embarrassed to tell pollsters they were voting for Trump in 2016, resulting in the Election Day shock, a phenomenon we risk repeating. The longer the violence continues, the better an authoritarian’s shouts of “Law and order!” will sound. Trump has stoked the fires indirectly with his repeated claims of being above the law and his threats to send troops into American cities. He would be far from the first would-be autocrat to provoke a calamity in order to rally the people around him as he promises order and vengeance.
Disinformation’s alternative reality:
In a cease-and-desist letter dated June 9, 2020, the president’s re-election staff demanded that CNN retract and apologize for a recently released poll that had presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leading Trump by 14 points. The letter, which the cable news network immediately laughed off, heavily cited the work of Trump pollster John McLaughlin, whose company alleged that CNN had somehow engaged in a “defamatory” act of “misinformation” and deliberately “skewed” data in an attempt to depress the president’s supporters.
In one respect, it was just the latest effort by the president’s aides to attempt to satisfy the boss’ appetite for retribution. But it also revealed an element of the Trump political operation that has increasingly demanded time, money, and attention—mainly, the task of convincing Trump that the electoral landscape and polling deficits he faces aren’t as dire as he’s been hearing.
“This helps keep the president from flying into a rage as much as he otherwise would,” said a White House official who’s been in the room for these types of sessions.
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) June 14, 2020