Most people want COVID-19 to go away, maybe no one more so than Donald Trump. He doesn’t care about the people who’ve died, of course, nor those who lost family members and friends, homes and jobs, or businesses to the pandemic and subsequent economic collapse. Trump’s tired of COVID-19 because it’s majorly fucked up his chances at re-election.
So the president’s plans have changed. Trump’s new pre-Election Day, post-coronavirus diagnosis play is clear—will the virus into nonexistence, launder it into everyday American life, and demand that things go back to normal.
This is … not a coherent thought pic.twitter.com/D5249gHI1T
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 20, 2020
In fairness, Trump and most Republicans have been trying to do this since the pandemic started. It’s the real reason for evil voluntary quit legislation, ill-advised early reopenings, and half-witted statements about not fearing the virus. If the service economy—the bedrock upon which politicians’ and their financiers’ wealth and power sit—were to collapse, people might wake up and realize the untold different ways their country is screwing them over every single day. (Spoiler alert: a lot of them did anyway.)
Since March, the president has promised COVID-19 would simply disappear like a fart in the wind—first by Easter, then by summer, then in time for football season. He treated coronavirus like a public relations problem, and rightly so (at least to some extent). The pandemic turned out to be the biggest threat to his reelection, as his incompetence led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and pulled the final Jenga blocks from the teetering economy Trump famously took credit for.
He was wrong every time he said it would go away, and it was obviously idiotic, but if Trump keeps repeating himself and demanding “normal life” eventually he’ll be right. Vaccines are still likely months away, and there’s no telling if people will be willing to take them when they’re actually available. Several states are experiencing new infection spikes as flu season begins.
Trump (and Republicans’) bet is that the distrust they’ve sown over the past eight months will only grow angrier and more frustrated. They’re hoping Americans’ famously short attention spans will win out again—all it takes is a few extra pushes, like calling the country’s top infectious disease doctor (and virtually every other American scientist) an idiot. Trump is as desperate as he’s ever been and clearly doesn’t care what he says or how it sounds. He’s shifted Republican efforts to erase COVID-19 into hyperdrive as part of his last minute push to climb out from the stack of shit he’s piled on himself.
Erasing COVID-19 would allow Trump to morph it (and all the virus’ long term effects) into just another everyday risk of going to work or bringing your kids to school or taking your family out to eat—just like the flu, or car accident deaths, or any other “manageable” crisis we accept as a risk and price of living in the United States. And he’s not that far from doing it.