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Seniors seeing through Trump’s false choice that the economy more important than your life

Attorney Scott Pilutik wrestles with the news of the day, from a lawyerly perspective…

[Regarding this story: Trump needs two electoral blocs to win. The pandemic is driving a wedge between them.]

Trump derives much of his support from finding boogeymen fashioned from our basest instincts to scare the shit out of the elderly, his primary constituency. But now that the elderly have something to genuinely, legitimately fear — a virus with a sharply escalating lethality rate tethered to age, Trump is denying and minimizing the risk. Fox News, whose business model is roughly the same as Trump’s schtick, is sounding the same false choice — the economy is more important than your life.

So it’s noteworthy that the seniors appear to be seeing right through it: “By a 6-to-1 margin, Americans 65 and older say it is more important to address the spread of the coronavirus than to focus on the economy.”


Per a National Journal poll, “[i]n mid-March, seniors were more supportive of Trump than any other age group (plus-19 net approval). Now, their net approval of the president has dropped 20 points and is lower than any age group outside of the youngest Americans.”

Sacrificing your core voters/audience/viewers to the economic gods probably isn’t good for the business of getting reelected if you needed them to show up alive on election day (many in states without mail-in balloting) and vote for you.

Ibram X. Kendi in The Atlantic points to the parallels betweeen prevalent attitudes during slaveholding days and today. “Freedom,” as it was then rhetorically wielded by southern states, meant the freedom of the most economically fortunate to enslave, which belief naturally meant discounting to the point of dehumanizing the “freedom” of those enslaved.

Though the gaps between socioeconomic and racial divisions have narrowed, they nevertheless persist today. So, as black people have come to comprise a disproportionately outsized percentage of COVID-19 cases and deaths, it’s no wonder that once again we’re confronted with competing views of “freedom,” namely the community’s freedom to live versus the autonomous freedom of individuals to imperil the community’s freedom.

— In a similar vein to the above Atlantic piece, Charlie Warzel in the New York Times notes how America’s fatalistic acceptance of gun deaths has primed it to become numb to massive numbers of coronavirus deaths. The partisan divisions are roughly the same, as are the competing notions of freedom — an individual’s right to bear arms coming at the expense of the community’s freedom to live lives with less fear of death.

— If you want a good barometer of how things are being managed at the White House, last night Trump almost comically announced that the Coronavirus Task Force would be winding down, I guess since everything is going so smoothly. But evidently that trial balloon wouldn’t float, so Trump this morning on Twitter backtracked and said that the task force will “continue on indefinitely.”

In related news, Jared Kushner, fresh off his latest tragicomic triumph, has been charged with getting a vaccine by the end of the year, which I suppose means that a handful of Silicon Valley asshats are about to get rich for no apparent reason and we can perhaps tack on a zero to the number of expected deaths.

— You should probably set aside some time to school yourself on the “faithless elector” issue being heard by SCOTUS next week. Because if SCOTUS rules against Colorado, it would open the door for a handful of “electors” to throw the election to Trump even in states where he’d lost the popular vote.

— There will be Congressional testimony on COVID-19 starting this morning, including experts.

— C-SPAN is carrying live SCOTUS arguments, which is a brand new thing. Oral arguments have been available for awhile after the fact, but never live. Justice Ginsburg is participating from the hospital, where she’s presently undergoing non-surgical treatment for a gall bladder condition. Yikes.

— Finally, ProPublica did a deep dive on Mazar’s, Trump’s extremely shady accountants and tax preparers. The issue of whether Mazar’s has to open its books on Trump is before SCOTUS very soon.

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