It’s been almost three weeks since the election and President Donald Trump continues to hide out in the White House with almost no public events on his schedule. Also, the man who prides himself on being such a tough guy has not taken a single question from reporters since the election. He has spoken publicly four times since then: his election night speech, his speech two days after the election, and two other appearances where he made statements, but did not take questions.
His latest appearance was on Friday November 20. In that statement he maintained that “Big Pharma” opposed him — the evidence being that announcements of vaccine trial results were not announced until after the election. At the mention of the election, Trump interjected, “which I won, by the way. But, you know, we’ll find that out. Almost 74 million votes. We had Big Pharma against us. We had the media against us. We had big tech against us. We had a lot of dishonesty against us.”
This is just one of countless Trump statements that mental health professionals, journalists, and anyone else who wants to take a shot will be able to analyze for decades to come. Let’s take just a quick look here.
First of all, this statement is a glaring example of Trump’s trait of projecting his qualities and faults onto others. Specifically, I mean the man who has made over 22,000 false statements while serving as President claiming, “We had a lot of dishonesty against us.”
Even richer than that is Trump’s statement that “I won, by the way. But, you know, we’ll find that out. Almost 74 million votes.” This statement actually has a grain of truth wedged into it. He did get almost 74 million votes; he’s just rounding up from the 73,768,688, as of this writing. The problem here of course is that Joe Biden got over five million more votes, 79,794,851 votes. Biden also got more votes than Trump in enough states that Biden won the Electoral College. In fact he won it by the same margin that Trump did in 2016, a margin Trump at the time called a “landslide.”
Here are a few other actual facts that we can hope will penetrate the Trump information shield in years to come and drive him even crazier. Biden got more votes than any other Presidential candidate in history. Biden also pulled the biggest percentage of the national vote of any candidate running against an incumbent President since Franklin Roosevelt defeated Herbert Hoover in 1932. FDR pulled 57.4% against Hoover during the depths of the Great Depression. Biden is at 51%.
Although Trump has lost over and over again in courts throughout the swing states, he is still claiming massive fraud in tweets, still without evidence. While he continues to make the fraud claims, Trump now appears to be pivoting to a strategy of trying to get Republican dominated legislatures in swing states to pick their own set of electors — a strategy exposed by The Atlantic in an article before the election. This strategy is widely expected to fail also although we need to continue paying very close attention.
For those who are rightly worried about whether Trump will peacefully exit the White House by January 20 here are some comforting words from General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff i.e. the top General in the US military: “We are unique among militaries. We do not take an oath to a king or a queen, a tyrant or a dictator. We do not take an oath to an individual. No, we do not take an oath to a country, a tribe or religion. We take an oath to the Constitution.” Milley made those remarks on November 11.
Folks may recall that Milley, wearing combat fatigues, accompanied Trump on his notorious stroll to St. John’s Church for a photo op in which Trump held up a Bible while standing in front of the church. Prior to Trump’s walk to the church, peaceful demonstrators were forcibly cleared from in front of the White House to clear a path for the president and his entourage. Once the group arrived in front of the church, Ivanka Trump pulled a Bible from her designer purse and handed it to her Dad. The resulting photo was used by both campaigns.
Milley was rightly criticized for lending his presence to the spectacle. He obviously thought it over because a few days later he apologized during an address to the National Defense University Class of 2020: “Always maintain a keen sense of situational awareness. As senior leaders, everything you do will be closely watched, and I am not immune. As many of you saw the result of the photograph of me at Lafayette Square last week, that sparked a national debate about the role of the military in civil society. I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics. As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I’ve learned from, and I sincerely hope we all can learn from it.”
It seems fair to say that Milley has made up for his earlier transgression and history may yet call on him again.
Meanwhile, as Trump hides from public view, refuses to let his administration cooperate in the transition, and tweets about how he was robbed in the election, the coronavirus rages worse than ever before. The US is now on a path to lose more people than it did in World War II. The number of American war dead in World War II was 418,500 according to the National WWII Museum. The US death toll now is just over 260,000. That is a considerable number of lives away from the World War II figure, but according to the prestigious Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, and others, we could reach that level by March 2021.
In closing let’s analyze the state of our country by comparing those two events which led to so many deaths — both of Americans and of people around the world. The US entered World War II in response to an attack on US forces and Americans fought alongside soldiers from many other nations to defeat the Nazis, the Italian Fascists and the Imperial Japanese. The federal government launched a reorganization of American industry almost overnight to produce weapons, tanks, fighter planes, ammunition and other war supplies. Americans on the home front sacrificed, not just through their family members in the service, but in a wide range of ways. That included rationing of gasoline, automobiles, tires, fuel oil, coal, firewood, nylon, silk, butter, sugar, canned milk, and shoes.
Americans rose to the occasion and, along with the other Allies, won the war — albeit at great cost. Now, let’s fast forward to 2020. Millions of Americans have risen to the occasion to try and defeat the coronavirus. The biggest heroes this time around are the front line medical workers. In World War II, however, the war effort was nationwide with virtually everyone sacrificing and participating. In 2020 huge swaths of the population refuse to acknowledge the reality of the coronavirus or to participate in measures to prevent its spread. Tens of millions refuse to do something so simple and effective as to wear a mask while around others outside one’s immediate household. Many Americans have gone so far as to harass, and spew in the face of, low wage retail workers who end up having to enforce mask rules.
Also, we have tens of millions of Americans who believe Donald Trump when he says the election was stolen from him.
The United States of the 1940s had some very serious shortcomings, Jim Crow and deep racism being the top example. We have since made some progress on the race front, with a long way still to go. In many other ways, however, we have lost a lot.
Here’s one example for how to address this in the long term. Reestablish serious civics and history education at all levels of education. Yes, STEM education is still very important, but we should never have deemphasized civics and history education. That is one fundamental reason for the state of our country today.
Last week I wrote that Joe Biden faces the biggest challenges of any new President since FDR. After further consideration, I’m switching that to since Abraham Lincoln.