The Great Trump Blame Game
In the midst of a lethal pandemic, Americans are striving for social cohesion and solidarity. They may yet achieve it, but if they do, it will be in spite of this president, not because of him. Trump is doing everything in his power to divide us, to keep people on edge, mistrustful and at one another’s throats. To that end, he will even cheer on people who are violating his own administration’s social-distancing guidelines.
But there is also method to Trump’s madness. From the moment he took office, the president has pursued a base-only strategy. Rather than trying to win over converts, Trump has decided his path to victory in November lies with inflaming his base, keeping his supporters in a state of constant agitation, even if that requires framing “a complex science/policy debate as evil oppressors vs. heroic victims,” in the words of the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt.
… the president and many of his most devoted supporters are fomenting chaos, division, and antipathy. They want COVID–19 to be the latest battlefield in a never-ending culture war.
This is particularly worrisome because while some crises can unify a nation, pandemics have historically caused people to turn on one another. At the very moment we need as our national leader a person who can break down the dividing walls, who can strengthen our bonds of affection for one another, we have a president who is temperamentally determined to annihilate comity, a spirit of grace and self-giving, and feelings of empathy and compassion.
… the justifications and rationalizations are getting a bit tiresome as Trump confirms with every passing day some of the gravest concerns about him—psychological, emotional, cognitive, and moral. He is a badly damaged soul who draws energy by acting in ways that are degrading and dishonorable.
“Conservatives” formerly lamented, and with considerable justification blamed Democrats for, rhetoric calculated to set American against American. But nobody has been more relentless and blatant at that game than Trump.