facebook linkedin twitter

Trump Nearing a Dead End on 5th Avenue
COMMENTARY

October 12, 2020 by Robert B. Reich
U.S. President Donald Trump removes his mask upon return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Oct. 5, 2020. [Win McNamee/TNS]

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Donald Trump boasted in 2016.

Trump’s 5th Avenue principle is being severely tested. Some 40 percent of voters have stuck by him even though more than 214,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. It’s one of the world’s highest death rates — due in part to Trump initially downplaying its dangers, then refusing responsibility for it, promoting quack remedies for it, muzzling government experts on it, pushing states to reopen despite it, and discouraging people from wearing masks.

They’ve stuck by him even after he turned the White House into a hotspot for the virus, even after he caught it himself, and even after he asserted just days ago that it’s less lethal than the flu. A recent nonpartisan study concluded that Trump’s blatant disinformation has been the largest driver of COVID-19 misinformation in the world.

They’ve stuck by him even as more than 11 million Americans have lost their jobs, 40 million risk eviction from their homes, 14 million have lost health insurance, and almost one out of five Americans with kids at home cannot afford to adequately feed their children.

They’ve stuck by him even though more Americans have sought unemployment benefits this year than voted for him in 2016, even after Trump cut off talks on economic relief, even as he’s pushing the Supreme Court to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would cause 20 million more to lose health insurance.

Trump is, in effect, standing in the middle of 5th Avenue, killing Americans. Yet here we are, just a few weeks before the election, and his supporters haven’t budged. The latest polls show him with 40 percent to 43 percent of voters, while Joe Biden has a bare majority.

The most egregious test of Trump’s 5th Avenue principle is still to come, when he tries to kill off American democracy. He’s counting on his supporters to keep him in power even after he loses the popular vote.

He’s ready to claim that mail-in ballots, made necessary by the pandemic, are rife with “fraud like you’ve never seen,” as he asserted during his debate with Biden — although it’s been shown that Americans are more likely to be struck by lightning than commit voter fraud.

Alleging fraud, he’ll likely dispute election results in any Republican-led state that he loses by a small margin — such as Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin.

Then he’ll rely on the House of Representatives to put him over the top.

“We are going to be counting ballots for the next two years,” Trump warned at a recent Pennsylvania rally, noting “we have an advantage if we go back to Congress. I think it’s 26 to 22 or something. It’s counted one vote per state. So we actually have an advantage.”

He was referring to the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, which provides that if state electors deadlock or can’t agree on a president, the decision goes to the House. There, each of the nation’s 50 states gets one vote.

That means small Republican-dominated states such as Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming (each with one House member, who’s a Republican) would have the same clout as large Democratic states like California (with 53 House members, 45 of whom are Democrats).

Trump does have the advantage right now: 26 state congressional delegations in the House are now controlled by Republicans, and 22 by Democrats. Two — Pennsylvania and Michigan — are essentially tied.

But he won’t necessarily retain that advantage. The decision would be made by lawmakers elected in November, who will be sworn in on Jan. 3 — three days before they’ll convene to decide the winner of the election.

Which is why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is focusing on races that could tip the balance of state delegations — not just in Pennsylvania and Michigan but any others within reach.

“It’s sad we have to have to plan this way,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues last month, “but it’s what we must do to ensure the election is not stolen.”

Trump’s 5th Avenue principle has kept him in power despite levels of deprivation, desperation and death that would have doomed the presidencies of anyone else. But as a former New Yorker, he should know that 5th Avenue ends at the Harlem River at 142nd Street, and the end is near.

© 2020 BY ROBERT REICH; DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Opinions

Medicare Open Enrollment Is Here: What Beneficiaries Need to Know

Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment Period is here. From now until December 7, 63 million seniors and those with certain disabilities... Read More

Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment Period is here. From now until December 7, 63 million seniors and those with certain disabilities can shop for and enroll in Medicare coverage that suits their needs. There’s a lot for seniors to consider at Open Enrollment, and the choices can... Read More

Loud Climate Policy

Let me set the stage: There’s a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress and a Democrat in the White... Read More

Let me set the stage: There’s a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress and a Democrat in the White House. Climate advocates have spent the last few years in the exile of a Republican Administration, one quarter drawing more and more attention to hurricanes and... Read More

My Mom is Living with Alzheimer’s, But We’re Some of the Lucky Ones.

Six years ago, my mother started to show signs of dementia. She would constantly lose personal items around the house... Read More

Six years ago, my mother started to show signs of dementia. She would constantly lose personal items around the house and often became confused in casual conversations. I wish that was the worst of it.  Months later, she began to hallucinate that there was a boy... Read More

The US Needs an Updated Approach to Post-Disaster Housing

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” As we process the reach and devastation of Hurricane Ida, leaving dozens... Read More

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” As we process the reach and devastation of Hurricane Ida, leaving dozens dead and hundreds of thousands without power, Benjamin Franklin’s admonition about preparedness reads as if it could’ve been spoken yesterday.  We know we live in a... Read More

October 5, 2021
by Rachel Marsden
If You Cared About This Week’s Facebook Outage, You’re a Target for Manipulation and Control

On Monday, Oct. 4, major social media applications run by Facebook, including WhatsApp, Instagram, and the social media giant itself,... Read More

On Monday, Oct. 4, major social media applications run by Facebook, including WhatsApp, Instagram, and the social media giant itself, all went dark worldwide for several hours. Not only did the outage prevent billions of users from accessing these services, but even those who only signed... Read More

October 1, 2021
by Mary Sanchez
The Hypocrisy of the Abortion Access Debate

Through more than five hours of testimony, the Congressional hearing on the nation’s ever-decreasing access to abortion showcased a lot... Read More

Through more than five hours of testimony, the Congressional hearing on the nation’s ever-decreasing access to abortion showcased a lot of erroneous thinking. There were twisted interpretations of eugenic's history, a flimsy albeit adamant concern specific to abortions in the Black community, a Pollyanna belief that... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top