Americans are set to vote in just three weeks’. I don’t vote in this country, and I don’t pray, but I will pray on election day, and I will anxiously await results. What do you care? Someone might ask. I care because the experience with this president has been very personal and painful. It started a few days before the 2016 election when the disgraceful candidate was caught on tape talking about pussy and power. I would not straightforwardly support Hillary Clinton for president, but it could be interesting, I thought. Besides, what kind of country would vote for a person as vulgar as Trump?
As we know, Trump won. Hillary indeed contributed to his success as she is famous for running bad campaigns, and for being honest, she was the wrong candidate. Not because she is a woman, of course. Trump’s victory did not arrive because of his charisma, talent, or anything else that could count as merit. He got lucky because Hillary Clinton so rudely eliminated Bernie Sanders. If Trump had had to face Sanders, he would probably never be the president of the United States. By saying this, I do not mean that this country has just one Trump. There are more waiting to come. In these last four years, Trump has managed to destroy the values and reasons that give human existence worth. This is why I will be nervous on November 3. Go vote, please.
The sun was still high up in the sky but the light was mellow when a motorcade of armored black SUVs pulled out of the side entrance of the gigantic Walter Reed Military Health Center, about 15 miles north from the White House. It had just been reported that President Trump was about to return home. But instead, the president’s motorcade turned right, away from the White House. Ominous-looking silent cars glided towards the main entrance of the hospital compound, guarded by police and Secret service, and a few dozen Trump supporters armed with both American flags and Trump flags. Most of the cars passing by the hospital honked to greet them. The supporters waved back. It was a simple act of reciprocal recognition of Trump supporters. They were all white, the majority not wearing a face mask, showing unwavering support to their leader who was hospitalized because he too was not wearing one. Following Trump’s crowd from across the road were tv crews of about the same density as Trump’s supporters. It felt like being in an obsolete epoch of TV a couple of decades ago. The cameras, no matter how good, were too far away to capture anything else besides the supporters across the street. Finally, one could hear the humming sound of the cameras shooting the President’s motorcade, symbolically joining the tribe. As it passed the supporters, the president’s car did not honk. Through the small window of his SUV, the president waved, and supporters got excited and felt blessed. The motorcade passed the hospital, made a U-turn at the first crossing, and drove back, letting the President salute his followers on the other side of the road.
Trump looked very much like a Holly Father, waving to the crowds from his papa mobile. Except that the president’s cars were black, armored, and hermetically sealed to protect the president from any outside impact. But this time, the danger was inside the car– a highly contagious president with two hostages. The Secret Service agents assigned to the president by the security protocol were obligated to ride with the contagious president. They will now have to spend 14 days in quarantine, risking infection, and perhaps, like the president who is still not out of danger, death.
In spite of the drama that exploded over the President’s health, it is still unclear what kind of game Trump is playing. After a short drive to boost the spirits of his scattered army and his own, the president returned to his residence at Walter Reed, where he was dispatched to six bedrooms, offices, and a hospital within the hospital. There, after his tiring excursion, he received large doses of experimental medicines, steroids, vitamins, and perhaps oxygen. None of the millions of infected Americans have received similar treatment. But Donald Trump is the president of the U.S., even when he shows no respect to his voters, taxpayers, and citizens.
The President’s doctor mentioned that Trump might return to the White House the next day. Naturally, hospital doctors wanted to keep the president in the hospital until he was out of danger and no longer contagious to the people around him. But the big spreader decided differently.
Twenty-four hours after the joy ride amongst his crowd that made him happy and fulfilled, Trump pressed his doctors and staff about getting back to the White House, back to his bed and tv set. As usual, Trump announced his comeback via Twitter:
“I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”
Trump’s message sounded like someone on the opioids, revived after some grave injury. Which, of course, was not the case. But most probably, Trump was overwhelmed by acute euphoria, known to be a major side effect after receiving a massive dose of steroids. With or without medicine, the words of the President were offensive if not brutal. To claim that there is nothing to be afraid of, that Americans should not fear the pandemic, that miraculous medicines are on the way, is an insult to the nation that is still mourning 210,000 dead and has had seven million citizens and counting infected by the virus. But the president, in line with his policies before he encountered the virus, decided that he would continue to campaign without any social distancing measures or concern over the fates of the people who are affected by his actions.
Trump wanted his return to be a triumph. It was dusk when huge Marine One landed on the south lawn, just a few steps from the White House. Trump climbed the stairs to his residence and stood on the balcony twitching and continuously straightening his jacket. He then, with great determination, took off his face mask and gave a military salute to the nation. He remained standing on the balcony, providing the various TV networks present enough time to get footage. At least three different videos documented Trump’s return into the silent and what looked like an empty White House. But there were enough lights to illuminate his face and call attention to the president’s labored breathing. When he finally disappeared into the building and the lights in the White House went off, Trump, most probably from the hospital unit where he is being treated, started to tweet again.
But as the night fell and the President finally calmed down, the nation remained restless, trying to figure out the real health condition of their contradicting president. How is it possible that a White House event infected 34 people, becoming one of the most important clusters to come out of the pandemic? Was America still safe? Should the Vice President be traveling around the country, campaigning and participating in the VP debate when doctors have not yet cleared the President? Another unresolved question to this day– when was the last time the president tested negative, and when did he first test positive? It is essential to know the precise day of infection. In case he was infected days before he was hospitalized, which seems to be the case, the president, during his numerous contacts, travels, meetings, and TV debate with Joe Biden could have been a big spreader of the virus. Chris Wallace, the moderator of the debate in Cleveland, confessed that Trump and his family did not get tested before the event, as was requested. The President arrived late to the venue, and nobody on his team was wearing a mask, explained Wallace.
So what is happening to Trump? It is evident that the president’s madness has escalated as the days draw closer to the election. It is also apparent that during the last ten days, we have been witnessing a storm that has brought on extremely big symptoms of trumpism and that w are near the eye of that storm that might occur during these next three weeks.
When Donald Trump decided to run for president in 2015, he did it for two reasons. First, in the unstoppable decay of the Bush- Clinton ancien regime, he saw his chance to grab power, and second, because he needed to restore his brand and pay back his debt. As the recent revelations on his tax returns published by the New York Times show, Trump needed to occupy the White House in order to resolve his financial problems, caring little or nothing if he must throw the entire country under the bus in the process. The world had also entered a phase of mediocrity, suffering an enduring crisis of leadership. The political, economic, and cultural elite had gone and was replaced by a small circle of oligarchs and corporations. On the eve of the 2016 elections, the world was ready for Trumpism, and yet that world was still liveable and somehow pleasant. Five years ago, we could breathe in the air of optimism, participate in the effort to change the world for the better by acknowledging the errors that came with greed and domination of the economy over our lives. There was hope in policies meant to rectify the side effects of unlimited growth, the consequences of approaching the dangerously expanding social inequality. Now this time has gone, and most of the things we lived for are no longer here. What is left, especially in this cruel period of the pandemic, are our families and small groups of friends: “It is when the society has been fractured in tribes, and divisions have become insurmountable, that tyrants tend to emerge, exploiting and fomenting chaos, to reign, however briefly, over the aftermath,” explained Andrew Sullivan on the arrival of Donald Trump:
Denial. Avoidance. Distraction. Willful ignorance. These are all essential to enabling a tyrant’s rise. He does and says the unexpected and unthinkable to stun his opponents into a kind of dazed passivity. It’s this capacity to keep you on your heels, to keep disorienting you with the unacceptable (which is then somehow accepted), that marks a tyrant’s relentless drive. He does this by instinct. He craves chaos, lies, suspense, surprises — not because he’s a genius, but because stability threatens his psyche. He cannot rest. He is not in control of himself. And whenever the dust settles, as it were, he has to disturb it again.
But time is moving fast. Only a couple of weeks ago, Trump, a wannabe dictator, said he would not concede if defeated in the election. If he were to get the majority of the ballots counted on election night, he would proclaim the victory without waiting to count mail-in votes. For the occasion, Republicans and Democrats have mobilized armies of lawyers ready to start a war, a day after the election. The fight would start by recounting and spread into riots all over the country. Trump and his circle of friends and devotees love this scenario. The armed Trumpers are getting ready, as we have seen in Portland, Michigan, and elsewhere.
But then a couple of things have happened. As mentioned, a day before the first presidential debate, The New York Times published an investigative piece on Trump’s tax returns. According to the report, he did not pay a dime of taxes for ten years, and in 2017 and 2018, when he was in the White House, his tax contributions were merely 750 dollars per year. The New York Times claims Trump owes more than 400 million dollars (other financial experts assert that number is much higher) to banks. This contradicts the president’s boasting of being a successful businessman. It also crushed his ego and raised the question about the foreign creditors who have leverage on the American president. Trump, of course, disputed the publication’s findings but presented himself furiously at the debate with Biden a day later. The president was fuming, interrupting Biden all the time, lying, gesturing wildly, and almost screaming. It was Trump all over the place, with a few short Biden interjections, calling the President a clown and telling him to shut up.
It was America at its worst. The terrible spectacle left a very bad taste among the public. Has Trump lost control? Biden was progressing in the polls. And then Trump traveled for two more days before late Thursday night when he admitted that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
For the president, who at the age of 74 still shows a very immature character, this was not a big shock. To me, his behavior demonstrates that Trump considers himself to be as immortal as teenagers think they are. So, he must have regarded the disease as a chance. (After he left the hospital, he said that COVID was like god’s gift to him). He took the opportunity: he went to the hospital, facing hell like 210,000 dead Americans. He flew to the hospital but received a dose of monoclonal antibody therapy before that. This experimental cocktail was developed by Regeneron, using human cells derived from a fetus aborted decades ago. Besides taking this experimental drug, about which people like Bill Gates speak highly, Trump was pumped with oxygen, which allowed him to walk on his own to the helicopter and then into the hospital. There, Trump missed the chance to remain silent. Considering the fact that he had been hospitalized in America’s best hospital, where a vast team of doctors was giving him experimental drugs, the president was never in danger. So far at least, since he is not out of the woods yet. But being where he was, he took corticosteroid dexamethasone, that doctors only give to very sick patients in the early stages of infection. We don’t have enough details about everything that doctors treated the 45th President with. Trump could have run the rest of the campaign as a person who faced the disease and defeated it with god’s help, and with the miraculous medicine which he tested in person with the purpose of saving the nation. Would that not have been better than the delirium of words we have had to follow since the day Trump got back to theWhite House?
So, instead of grabbing more power and becoming a real tyrant, Trump continues to meddle with the things he no longer controls, worsening his situation. Is it because he is infected, because perhaps for the first time, he needs to face himself that he sounds so out of touch? We don’t know, and perhaps no longer care, feeling a little bit of a breeze after a long four years. It’s been days now that we only hear his voice and occasionally his coughing. We no longer know how he looks, but his words sound like he is in some kind of delirium. Perhaps he finally got scared of coronavirus and realizes that he is no longer immortal.