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Putting 2020 in the Rearview Mirror

James Preston Allen: My gripe about the mainstream media is that it has taken them far too long to catch onto Trump’s grift. Too long for them to call him out as a liar and a cheat.
Rearview Mirror

Careening from crisis to crisis

I would be happy if I never had to write about Donald J. Trump ever again. This week would be too soon. His rollercoaster crises have just been exhausting, annoying and ridiculously absurd leading to stupid arguments with his devotees and cult followers who trust social media postings and wild conspiracy theories from newly minted fake “news” websites more than they do actual journalists.

My gripe about the mainstream media is that it has taken them far too long to catch onto Trump’s grift. Too long for them to call him out as a liar and a cheat. And too late in pushing forward journalists with the stones to actually call him out directly at his press briefings. Trump is never wrong, right?

My gripe about the mainstream media is that it has taken them far too long to catch onto Trump’s grift. Too long for them to call him out as a liar and a cheat.

Back in December of 2019, after Congress voted to impeach No. 45, my family was all seated around the holiday table. I had this dark premonition of what the next year had in store. I didn’t want to spoil the celebration for I could not yet see what the dark clouds held past the horizon. It was just an inkling of what was to come. Perhaps if I had been more prescient I would have stood up and shouted a warning.

So we went from hearing the first reports of the novel coronavirus in December 2019, to submitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate on Jan. 16, 2020. Shockingly, against all the evidence, the Senate acquitted Trump after failing to reach the 67 votes to convict. No. 45 was still denying the seriousness of the coronavirus despite already knowing the truth. Remember when he famously said, “It will be over by spring”? Well now it’s one year later with over 355,000 American dead from the coronavirus. We’ll be lucky if half of the population of the United States is vaccinated by June of this year.

Then, as COVID-19 was identified and named, the economy was shut down in March to stop the spread of the infection. This in turn collapsed the main street economy, caused millions of workers to lose their jobs and shuttered many “non-essential” businesses. A new awareness emerged of just who was essential and who was not — elevating to “working class heroes” many who had previously been taken for granted, like front line nurses, employees of the postal service and grocery store workers.

Outside of the annual Labor Day rallies, being a working class hero hasn’t been celebrated in the American media since John Lennon’s song of the same name. His words are often considered too profane for radio:

They keep you doped with religion and sex and TV
And you think you’re so clever and classless and free
But you’re still fuckin’ peasants as far as I can see

These words now seem to resonate more to the younger set today.

The shutdown also revealed the buying power of the American consumer, who was belatedly recognized for being the key economic driving force, with a collective buying power of $13 trillion per year or 70 percent of gross domestic product.

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The economic crisis spawned by the pandemic should have toppled the Wall Street stock market, yet amazingly enough stocks soared, real estate prices rose and the fortunes of America’s wealthiest billionaires reached an unexpected zenith. All of this while the “not so essential workers” collected unemployment and food stamps if they were lucky and the small businesses that create the most jobs suffered. 

People got angry and then there was the murder of George Floyd by police caught on video. Cities across this nation exploded in demonstrations that we haven’t seen in decades. Not even police commanders in many cities could condone the injustice of this or the many other killings of black and brown people across this land.

Yet, Mr. Trump did not stand up and condemn it for what it was and instead accused the Black Lives Matter and ANTIFA movements for causing violence-being “terrorists.” Ignoring the actions of the far right militias and agent provocateurs.

As usual this president accused the wrong people just to prove he was right and never accepted any blame for any of his own actions that provoked these situations.

Between May 29 and June 7 the scene in front of the White House grew so tense that at one point Trump was escorted to the bunker with his wife and son for protection. And then on June 1 he unleashed the U.S. Park Police and the National Guard using tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray, sting ball grenades, horses, shields and batons to clear peaceful demonstrators from Lafayette Square and surrounding streets, creating a path for him to take a selfie in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church holding a bible.

All of this comes back as a seemingly distant memory as the nation continued to suffer from the worst pandemic in a century and the president continued to calculate his chances for winning reelection and holding mass rallies that spread the virus. And the virus did spread along with the conspiracy hoaxes, disinformation and fake news which became as viral as the disease itself making one wonder which was worse?

Some of us believed that if he could just be beaten at the polls on Nov. 3, we’d be done with him. This national nightmare would be over, but 60 lawsuits and 65 days past the 2020 general election, on the week Congress is to certify the Electoral College vote, Trump still has not conceded defeat for fear of being called “a loser.”

As of this writing, all eyes are on the tabulation of Georgia’s runoff election results and the MAGA demonstrations in Washington D.C. —the results of which will seal the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s first term in office. What we are witnessing is the revolt of the extreme right to democracy.

I don’t expect this to be easy nor for No. 45 to actually show up at President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20 and turn over the keys to the White House. He’s still going to be exclaiming, “the election was stolen” as he did on Jan. 6 even with no evidence to prove it. I’m not sure we can wait to have him ushered off the people’s property. 

good trouble

We may not yet breathe a collective sigh of relief on the day his time at the bully pulpit ends. But unless and until he actually does pay the price for his high crimes and attempted coup d’état against the republic, we may never be safe from the influence of Don “The Con.” We will always be checking our rearview mirror just to make sure that he’s not following us.

James Preston Allen
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