The Great Orange Shitgibbet ™ has always operated on the “divide and conquer” principle. He has said he loves chaos, but what that also means is that he loves division, so that people get so busy fighting each other they are unable to unite against him.
That strategy worked to get him elected, and it worked to keep the country off balance every time a real crisis (unlike his manufactured ones) threatened his position, from Russian hacking to impeachment. Each time, the country took sides and screamed at each other, while he watched from afar egging them on. Trump idea of governing (to the extent he has ideas about it at all) is based on stirring up as much ill-will as possible, against immigrants, against minorities, against his political opponents. This has been the GOP strategy since Nixon, and it’s one reason why Trump was able to take over the Republican party.
It’s not working this time. The coronavirus has united much (though hardly all) of the country to fight the pandemic, and that is not good for IMPOTUS.
David Brooks (yes, I know, but even he gets it right once in a while) wrote about this in today’s NYT:
In an ABC News/Ipsos poll last week, 98 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Republicans supported social-distancing rules. According to a Yahoo News/YouGov survey, nearly 90 percent of Americans think a second wave of the virus would be at least somewhat likely if we ended the lockdowns today.
The polarization industry is loath to admit this, but, once you set aside the Trump circus, we are now more united than at any time since 9/11. The pandemic has reminded us of our interdependence and the need for a strong and effective government.
The president of the United States is the only public official (other than the VP, who is an appendage of the president) who is elected nationally, who can serve as a unifying figure in a way no other politician (even past presidents) can. The nation instinctively turns to the president in times of crisis: FDR in WWII, JFK in the Cuban missile crisis, Reagan after the Challenger disaster, Bush after 9/11, Obama in the economic meltdown. And opposition from the other side would be muted ( though Republicans also gave FDR a lot of flack) until the crisis passed. That changed under Clinton and even more under Obama as the GOP became more and more partisan and divisive. And Trump used that, appealed to that, fed it steroids.
It seemed to be working — until the country faced a real crisis that Trump did not create, did not anticipate (even with ample warning), had — and has — no idea how to deal with. The country sees that and is uniting against the virus — and by extension against him.
Here’s Brooks’s conclusion:
Americans have responded to this with more generosity and solidarity than we had any right to expect. I’ve been on the phone all week with people launching projects to feed the hungry, comfort the grieving, perform little acts of fun with the young. You talk with these people and you think: Wow, you’re a hidden treasure.The job ahead is to make this unity last.
And unity is exactly what Trump cannot allow.