Saturday is America's favorite summer holiday, Independence Day. In normal times, we celebrate the fourth of July with backyard barbecues or ballpark outings or beach parties. This year, because of the pandemic, most of us will "celebrate" by sheltering in place. Fortunately, on the third of July, Donald Trump will inaugurate a new national holiday, "Lemming Day."
This Friday, Trump will host a political event at the Mount Rushmore national memorial in Keystone, South Dakota. There will be fireworks and a flyover by the Blue Angels Naval aerobatic team. According to the Republican South Dakota Governor, Kristi Noem, social distancing will not be enforced and masks will be optional. (https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/30/politics/trump-mt-rushmore-fourth-of-july-coronavirus/index.html) On July 3rd, Trump supporters will have another opportunity to infect each other with COVID-19. Like the mythic lemmings, Trump supporters will be encouraged to huddle together and, in effect, commit mass suicide.
You may ask, "What was Trump thinking when he scheduled the Mount Rushmore event?" Most likely, Donald was thinking, "This event will generate great TV ratings." The United States is in the middle of an existential catastrophe, the worst crisis that most of us have experienced, and what's foremost in Trump's mind are his TV ratings.
How did we get in this insane situation?
Although there were many explanations for Donald Trump's unexpected 2016 presidential victory, three seem particularly relevant today: 1. In 2016, many voters did not trust Washington politicians, "the elite;" 2. Millions of Americans felt they had lost their chance at the American dream; and 3. A significant number of Americans were angry with Barack Obama, because of the color of his skin, and wanted a "whiter" President.
1.In 2016, most Trump supporters saw Donald as an outsider, someone not part of the American elite. By virtue of his free-wheeling manner, his penchant for Tweets, and his rambling politically incorrect speeches, Trump has exemplified the "outlaw" outsider. Unfortunately, Trump disparages science and reasoned discourse. This defect produced his destructive response to the pandemic -- a catastrophe that has sickened more than 2.8 million Americans and killed at least 131,000. Nonetheless, today, millions of Trump supporters trust Donald more than the mainstream media or Washington "experts." They are part of the Trump cult -- similar to the Jim Jones, "Peoples Temple," cult that ended in the Jonestown massacre.
2. Many Americans voted for Trump because they felt eight years of the Obama administration had not helped their life chances. They came to believe that Obama, and the Democratic establishment including Hillary Clinton, cared more for millionaires and billionaires than they did working families. Donald Trump talked like a populist and they believed him -- because he was more "relatable" than Hillary Clinton. Many of these voters are no longer part of the Trump lemming cult. At the moment, they are adrift.
3. Finally, in 2016, there were many Trump supporters who harbored racial animosity. They identified with Donald's "white supremacist" tendencies and felt a visceral connection with him. Today, they are still with him. Trump's racist supporters may not agree with everything he says and does, but, for them, he's the only game in town.
On Friday, Trump supporters -- from groups 1 and 3 -- will gather at Mount Rushmore and celebrate their guy. United by resentment.
After the rally, the Trump devotees will return to their hometowns and infect thousands with the coronavirus. Many will get sick and some will die. Rather than "make America great" they will accelerate it's destruction.
Happy Lemming Day.