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Est. April 5, 2002
Apr 09, 2020 - Issue 813
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Trump’s Covid-19 Show and Dems

"Although moderate and liberal media pundits routinely assert
that Trump has performed poorly in his handling of the coronavirus,
the overwhelming majority of Republican voters, and a sliver of
independents, moderates, and working-class Democrats do not
share that view.  They are still with Trump as they support his
xenophobic, anti-immigrant, and anti-minority stances."


  • EMS personnel on calls from Newark, New Jersey’s poor African American central city residents are not taking them to the hospital if they show no signs of a fever.

  • Trump is giving positive strokes to Georgia and Florida Republican governors, who have been reluctant to mandate guidelines for the COVID-19 crisis, because he expects their loyalty in suppressing minority voters on November 3, 2020.

  • Low-wage service workers, mostly minority, are testing positive for the coronavirus and dying from it disproportionately in every U.S. state and territory.

  • Joel Payne, a black Democratic strategist and former advisor to the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, has warned Joe Biden against not choosing a female African American vice presidential running mate.

  • The current fact-checking of Donald Trump’s repeated lies and half-truths during his daily COVID-19 press conferences is useless since they occur too long after the actual statements, the public has moved on, and FOX News reinforces them as truths.

  • No testing stations for the coronavirus are located in communities of color, and there are no programs proposed or in development to reduce minority risks for contracting and/or dying from the disease.

Last week’s column was one of the first in the nation to sound the alarm on the enormous disparity in unemployment, positive cases, and deaths between America’s minority and majority populations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. That sad occurrence is only now being recognized by the Trump administration which was warned by its trade advisor, Peter Navarro, at the end of January 2020. Trump has denied that he was ever apprised of it.

But even more troubling is that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, and other Democratic leaders are also just highlighting these facts. In addition, a number of Democratic-aligned social justice organizations, such as the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, have also been slow to address this challenge.

We also noted that Republican legislators and judicial leaders were exploiting this situation in the State of Wisconsin by their refusal to delay the April 7th primary and local general elections via decisions by the Wisconsin and the U.S. Supreme Courts. They hoped that the coronavirus crisis would depress voter turnout among the state’s minorities who were the deciding factor in the Democrat’s narrow defeat of the 2018 Republican gubernatorial incumbent.

(Results from April 7th voting in Milwaukee revealed that “…the turnout reported after the last in-person ballots were cast Tuesday evening is well below the 140,000 votes forecasted by Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Neil Albrecht before the pandemic.”)

This use of COVID-19 as a political strategy served as a trial run for 2020 to test voter suppression tactics that enabled Trump to win Wisconsin’s electoral votes in 2016. It was also designed to ensure the reelection of Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly. Trump endorsed him with the hope that he could promote Kelly to one of the federal courts during his second term.

To further aid their efforts, the numbers of voting polls in Milwaukee, which serve the state’s largest concentration of minority voters, were reduced from 180 to five due to the paucity of poll workers. Special care was taken to exclude those polls which had historically recorded the highest minority turnouts. This decrease resulted in long lines of voters of color crowded together in contradiction to Wisconsin’s shelter-in-place directive and social distancing guidelines in one of the nation’s hotspots for COVID-19 deaths.

If this tactic is successful, then the Trump presidential campaign will double-down in other 2020 battleground states to ensure his return to office. Due to the eleventh hour decision to hold the election, the final results will not be available until April 13th as last minute absentee ballots will have to be counted.

Elsewhere, the coronavirus pandemic is also wreaking havoc. Minority deaths from the epidemic range from 40 to 80 percent of the total in all the major U.S. metropolitan areas: Milwaukee, Chicago, Atlanta, Memphis, Charlotte, New York, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Nashville, Miami, Phoenix, and others. People of color are disproportionately victims of the underlying health conditions most susceptible to the disease--diabetes, HIV, asthma, etc.

This new normal is a continuing episode of the Trump COVID-19 show which he has taken to high ratings (on which he frequently comments) in his daily briefings. It allows him to lie with abandon in his updates and to “pimp slap” reporters from MSNBC, CNN, PBS, the Associated Press, and other news outlets that refuse to kiss his ring. His daily performance excites his base.

As this reality series continues, the Democrats have not developed a plan to counter the Trump show. Joe Biden called Trump allegedly to commiserate about the coronavirus (according to Trump’s telling). And Biden’s responses to Trump’s COVID-19 gaffes and obvious falsehoods have been timid and have not resonated with the Democratic base.

Although moderate and liberal media pundits routinely assert that Trump has performed poorly in his handling of the coronavirus, the overwhelming majority of Republican voters, and a sliver of independents, moderates, and working-class Democrats do not share that view. They are still with Trump as they support his xenophobic, anti-immigrant, and anti-minority stances.

Trump is leading Biden by a roughly 2:1 margin in comparison to voter enthusiasm among their respective supporters. With Bernie Sanders’ continuing intra-Party opposition to Biden’s policy prescriptions, Biden is basically running in place among Democrats despite his nearly insurmountable delegate lead. Essentially, he is in the same political position as was Hillary Clinton at this point in 2016.

Thus, Biden is currently on track to repeat her failure to win. The Trump COVID-19 Show is rolling along with no apparent Democratic pushback as Biden is sheltering-in-place in Delaware contemplating his choice for a vice presidential running mate. While he has committed to naming a woman, he is perched to select the wrong one. She needs to be an African American.

His white donors and major advisors are urging him to choose from a bevy of white women ranging from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) to Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Congresswoman Val Demings (D-FL), and 2018 Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, all black, have been added largely for diversity.

But on this list, the only woman who will be a viable and electrifying asset on the campaign trail is Stacey Abrams. She possesses exemplary oratorical skills, is extraordinarily savvy about the voter suppression schemes that Trump operatives are employing now and that will escalate during the upcoming political war. She will also generate significant enthusiasm among the Democratic base, especially among African American women, who will turn out at record levels.

No other choice for the Biden ticket will come close to being the asset that Abrams will be. She is a fierce campaigner and is already known on the national stage due to her advocacy for an equitable voting process. Even Barack and Michelle Obama cannot deliver the black vote to Joe Biden. They, despite their Herculean GOTV efforts for Hillary could not generate an Obama-like black turnout for her on Election Day.

Barack was a candidate with singularly unique personal, political, and ethnic qualities that was not transferrable to another political contestant. In 2016, seven million fewer African American voters came out to cast votes in the presidential election. Stacey Abrams, due to her ground-level credibility and interpersonal skills, is more likely than the aforementioned females supposedly under consideration by Biden to get more black voters to turn out.

Neither Biden nor any of the women on his alleged short list can do that. But even more important is that he owes black females. Atty. Anita Hill, whom then Sen. Biden, while serving as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, allowed to be grossly mistreated during the 1991 Clarence Thomas hearings has given him a pass during this primary season.

And African American women as a group purchased Biden’s frontrunner ticket to lead the Democratic primary field in South Carolina on February 29th and on Super Tuesday on March 3rd, and he has never had to look back. If he chooses Stacy Abrams as his vice presidential partner, he will have the best chance of cancelling the Trump show, and they will return the Democrats to the White House.

links to all 20 parts of the opening series Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell and BC.

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