President Trump’s critics have a remarkable capacity to predict the future. Consider all the things Trump’s fiercest critics, both Democrats and Never Trumpers, called in advance:

  • If Trump goads governors into reopening their states early and sneer at mask-wearing, thousands will die.
  • If Trump fears he will lose the election, he will try to delegitimize the election.
  • If Trump stops inciting violent clashes with federal forces, unrest will die down.
  • If the virus runs rampant, the economy cannot recover.
  • If you go to a crowded Trump rally where masks are not worn, you risk illness or death.
  • If Trump sides with white nationalists and not Black Lives Matter, he will be at odds with with most Americans.
  • If Trump disdains scientific expertise, he will make a fool of himself embracing quack remedies and charlatans.

It is not that Trump critics have a crystal ball. If you understand cause and effect, embrace science and exercise common sense, you too can anticipate a good deal. If you do not disregard every public poll showing you doing poorly, you might have a better sense of where Americans actually stand on issues. (It would help if you got out of the right-wing media playback loop.) Trump, however, is unable to do these things and flails away, making matters worse for himself and the country.

We might try a different approach that would allow Trump also to “predict” the future. Here it goes:

  • If you invest in absentee voting and give the U.S. Postal Service adequate funds, you will help avoid, as Trump put it on Friday, the “greatest election disaster in history.”
  • If you call out Russian President Vladimir Putin for targeting U.S. troops and impose harsh sanctions when he does, he (and other aggressors) will be more likely to stop than if you never bring it up.
  • If you want Americans to survive financially and pay their bills at a time of astronomically high unemployment, boost their unemployment insurance, expand food stamps and give state and local governments money to stop massive layoffs of public employees.

This is not rocket science. At some point it becomes obvious that Trump does not want to do these things. He does not want to add credibility to an election he is increasingly likely to lose. He does not want to confront Putin even if U.S. troops’ lives are at stake. And he does not want to help working people because it will not impress his donors and will not keep him in good stead with the extreme base. (On this last one, it is also possible he and millionaire Cabinet members simply have no clue about the concerns facing unemployed Americans, who are not lazy but rather unable to find jobs.)

Republicans in 2016 missed the easiest cause and effect out there: If you elect a narcissistic, ignorant, corrupt and cruel president, disaster will ensue. We now are paying the price.

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