Will The Pandemic Divide America?

Published May 21st, 2020 - 08:32 GMT
(AFP/Getty)
(AFP/Getty)
The pandemic has caused even greater polarisation in the US and is turning out to be a defining period for Trump's future.

The US - the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic - is restless. 

According to the modeling used as criteria by the White House Covid-19 Task Force, the death toll in the US will reach 100,000 and this week, cases have exceeded 1.5 million. 

If that wasn’t bad enough, the country is also succumbing to the politicising of the disease, largely due to the quarrels bubbling up between President Trump and the Republican and Democratic Parties. 

President Trump is relentless in his enthusiasm for the reopening of his country, irrespective of a vaccine being available and the haunting death toll. 

The Democrats, powered and backed by the anti-Trump media, is claiming that the president is walking into a trap and making colossal errors by speaking in such positive terms. 

They also claim that as a result, he is putting people’s lives at risk. The resistance and disapproval of his arguments have become so strong, that a digital billboard, dubbed the “Trump Death Clock” has been erected in New York City’s Times Square.

While the process of returning to some semblance of normality has begun over some 48 states this week, others have announced that certain places will open with “the semi-model” - a half-way house, as it were. 

That said, Washington DC’s Mayor has announced that a stay-at-home order will remain in effect until 13 June, while New York’s Governor has announced that the same order will also remain in effect until 13 June.

In an example of how politicised the situation has become in the US, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has stepped in and chosen to overturn Democratic Governor Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order, ruling that Evers’ administration overstepped its authority when he extended the edict for an extra month without consulting the state assembly. 

Here is where we see a quarrel building between Republican and Democratic representatives and judges. Republican state senators have expressed their anger, stating that the Governor is using Covid-19 to gain political advantage, and that people who want to return to their jobs amid many companies fearing the stark economic crisis they face, should do so if they wish.

Demonstrations are still being held in a few states, California being one of them. Here, groups that are eager to inject life back into employment, are strongly critical of their state’s governor. 

There were some worrying armed protests in the state of Michigan two weeks ago, and it seems the same groups have announced that they would continue to protest their governor’s decisions by organising “Operation Haircut” today, in effect a mass rally where those opposing the apparent house arrest, will come out to get their hair cut in the streets by the state’s hairdressers. 

As a general overview, it has been noted that as the weather warms up across the United States, the use of masks in public and the rules people once abided by in terms of social distancing, have started to lapse.

States that have begun to take tentative steps back to normality have given anti-Trump activists an arsenal in their criticism of him, given that there were notable increases in cases as soon as their lockdowns were lifted.

Last Friday, the new three trillion-dollar economic relief package passed in the House of Representatives, where the Democrats enjoy a majority. 

However, this package will be difficult to pass in the Senate where, to make matters more complicated, the Republicans have a majority. 

As it stands, the unemployment rate in the US has gone up by almost 20 percent and more than 36 million applications for unemployment benefits have been submitted in the last two months. To add to this, announcements of bankruptcy from some big name companies have further caused anxiety around the country. 

We are seeing that the US economy has now entered a huge economic downturn, the budget deficit rising to levels not seen since just after World War II. The deficit reached $738 billion in April. It is expected to be around $4 trillion by the end of the year.

As the economy continues to nosedive, it is clear to some that the Democrats are using all of these quarrels and the confusion over when to reopen the country, and the best methods in which to do this, as weaponry against Trump and his bid to be reelected president in November. 

These are undoubtedly difficult days for the United States.

While President Trump remains a daily presence on American television networks, spreading hope and constantly assuring his people that their country will bounce back stronger than before, it is clear that his presidential bid is intrinsically linked in almost everything he says, in the actions he takes on behalf of Americans, and the methods he employs to improve the country’s standing in this pandemic. 

The next few months will be intriguing, if not critical, for the future of the US.

Ali Cinar is a Senior Foreign Policy Expert and a 2019 Ellis Island Medal of Honor Recipient.


Copyright © 2020 TRT World

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