GR US

Subverting Democracy

Αssociated Press

President Donald Trump participates in a video teleconference call with members of the military on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

President Trump is spending his remaining weeks in office attempting to cripple the incoming Biden administration. Trump’s goal is to maintain dominance of the Republican Party and leave open the option of another run for president in 2024.  to American national security, the environment, and the COVID-19 crisis are being sacrificed to that goal.

The opening moves in Trump’s sabotage campaign involved challenging the legitimacy of the last election. This led to 40 unsuccessful lawsuits and attempted manipulations of state governments, actions that became the focus of daily media. Trump’s more senseless supporters had their paranoia fed even though the President ultimately authorized an orderly transition of power. Although Trump failed to change the electoral outcome, he succeeded in diverting attention from his failure to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and his instigating a crisis in national security.

Shortly after the election Trump fired the head of Homeland Security for validating the legitimacy of the electoral outcome. The deputy chief immediately resigned to protest this dismissal. Individuals distinguished by their political loyalty to Trump rather than experience in security were chosen to fill the vacated posts. Similar scenarios have played out in the Department of Defense and the Pentagon. Given that the new unqualified Trump appointees will be gone in January, national security will be in limbo for weeks.

Ignoring the counsel of diplomats and the military, Trump plans to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq in mid-January. This action is a cynical ploy aimed at Joe Biden who will certainly have to replace the troops, making him vulnerable to the charge of irresponsibly prolonging seemingly endless wars. These actions are occurring at a time when Islamic extremists are reasserting power throughout the Middle East.

Another Trump ploy is his opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

This will take effect just days before Biden takes office. Gullible workers in those industries may be pleased, but oil behemoths like Chevron are moving to produce more environmentally safe fuels while auto giants like GM and Ford are speeding up their efforts to produce electric cars. Tesla and GM have already established significant production in China which leads the world in using electric cars and building the infrastructure needed to service them. In all likelihood Biden will immediately rescind the order and Republicans will rant he is stifling America’s energy self-sufficiency, defining self-sufficiency as dependence on fossil fuels.

Trump’s most costly sabotage of Biden concerns the COVID-19 pandemic. The same day he tried to take credit for a stock market that boomed after his defeat, the America rates of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths due to COVID-19 reached all-time highs. Hospitals report shortages of equipment as basic and low-cost as surgical gloves, face masks, and gowns.

Trump has taken no action to address such problems. He didn’t issue warnings to his faithful about the dangers of large holiday gatherings or urge them to wear protective face masks. With considerable reluctance, he belatedly allowed the incoming Biden team to consult with current health officials and have access to critical medical data, but he has made no effort to cooperate with Biden regarding controlling the pandemic. If the daily death rate remains unchanged, there will be another 90,000-120,00 deaths in Trump’s final days in office.

The President is enthusiastic about the new vaccines, but has not worked with Biden on the many technical problems of getting them to the public. This includes dealing with the shortage of the specialized gloves needed for people who would administer the vaccines. The President’s indifference to such specifics will delay the availability of the vaccines to the general public.

The economic crisis caused by the pandemic is becoming more acute daily. A public letter signed by a hundred economists urges that a stand-alone bill allocating each citizen $1,200 would be an effective means of getting the average American through to the time when the vaccines will allow the economy to be safely reopened. Most economics also agree that a new economic stimulus bill of over $2 billion is needed to salvage small businesses and their millions of workers. Given the Republican reluctance to even begin negotiations, such an economic stimulus is another problem left for Biden to resolve.

However one voted in the last election, it is in the national interest for the pandemic to be contained as quickly as possible. Any thwarting of that need is intolerable. National security is another political arena that needs to be beyond partisan politics. Trump has shown little regard for responding to those needs or considering their long-term implications for the nation’s well-being. Most Republican elected officials at the federal level have been silent partners in his self-serving political shenanigans.