Editorial: Team Trump Is Enlisting an ‘Army’ for Election Day

Donald Trump has shamelessly tried in various ways to obstruct and cast doubt on the validity of the 2020 presidential election, and now Donald Trump, Jr., has taken up the cause, shrilly dog whistling at the right-wing militia types among Trump’s supporters. Just days before Donald Trump denied having heard of the Proud Boys, an extreme-right, army-like, weapon-wielding hate group, Trump, Jr., posted a video on social media, calling for supporters to join an “army” to prevent the “radical left” from stealing the election.

In the video, a glassy-eyed Donald Trump, Jr., says, “The radical left are laying the groundwork to steal this election from my father, President Donald Trump. They are planting stories that President Trump will have a landslide lead on election night, but will lose when they finish counting the mail-in ballots. Their plan is to add millions of fraudulent ballots that can cancel your vote, and overturn the election. We cannot let that happen. We need every able-bodied man and woman to join Army for Trump’s election security operation…we need you to help us watch them. Not just on Election Day, but also during early voting, and at the counting boards. President Trump is going to win. Don’t let them steal it… Enlist today.”  Trump, Jr., also provides a website where those interested can sign up.

Donald Trump, Sr., has refused to definitively denounce white supremacists and extreme right hate groups, even those identified as such by the Southern Poverty Law Center (which includes the Proud Boys on its list of hate groups), or the FBI. In fact, many within the Proud Boys celebrated it as a signal of support when Trump, during the first presidential debate, said, “Proud Boys— stand back and stand by,” in response to moderator Chris Wallace, of Fox News, when Wallace asked Trump if he would denounce white supremacists and military groups such as the Proud Boys, known for endorsing violence.

Trump has suggested not only sending law enforcement agents to polling places on Election Day to “watch” voters; he has also encouraged his base to show up to “closely watch” in-person voting.

“I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that’s what has to happen. I am urging them to do it,” said Trump during the debate. It is voter intimidation, and Trump doesn’t care that it’s illegal.

The U.S. has never seen a presidential candidate (let alone a sitting president) launch this type of attack on an election, nor try to “enlist” supporters to oppose and try to intimidate the other party, as if in a war. But “dictators do it all the time,” says Judith Kelley, dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy and an expert in global democracy.

As careful as Trump, Sr., has been in his language to avoid denouncing right-wing militia groups, the messaging to people of that mindset has also been careful and intentional.

“It was a real threat,” said author and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, of Trump’s “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by” comment. “He knew exactly what he meant.”

“It wasn’t a shoutout,” said Mary Trump, the president’s niece and author of Too Much and Not Enough, a tell-all book about Donald Trump. “It was an order ― and we need to see it in those terms and we should be terrified by that.”

The Proud Boys interpreted it as such, posting memes and offering T-shirts emblazoned with “Standing down and standing by sir” just hours after the debate.

As for Trump Jr.’s video ad, “Enlist now,” says the marquis on the screen next to Trump, Jr.’s slightly addled-looking talking head.

Team Trump tweeted out the video with the caption, “We need you to join ARMY FOR TRUMP’S election security operation!”

“The use of terms like ‘army’ is by no means coincidental,” says Kelley. “Once you start using language that hints at the use of force, you are stoking the embers.”

Twitter slapped a small, unobtrusive notice on the tweet, by way of a link for those who were motivated to click: “Learn how voting by mail is safe and secure.” Apparently, this is Twitter’s current way of countering misinformation from Team Trump.

“These posts, by a president’s son, should rank among the most worrisome threats to American democracy in our history. Calling for an ‘army’ to prevent the election from being stolen?!? This should be disowned by the GOP—but we know it won’t be,” tweeted New York Times journalist Charlie Warzel.

Though GOP lawmakers are alarmed by Trump’s remarks and refusal to denounce hate groups and white supremacists, they have not said much about Team Trump’s tactics to try to obstruct the election.

Where are the “small government” members of Trump’s base, those who claim to cherish democracy and personal liberty? Does freedom to carry a weapon cancel out freedom to cast one’s vote? Are all bets off when it comes to “land of the free,” if it means that in order to ensure Trump’s re-election, Biden voters must be prevented from exercising their right to vote with threats, intimidation, and possibly even injury or death? If we’re waiting till Election Night, or in the days afterward, to worry about what might happen, it will be too late. The signal has been given; the call to arms has been made. Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and the rest of “Team Trump,” are attempting to steal the election right now, and an army of Trump supporters are standing back and standing by.

President Donald Trump: White supremacist group Proud Boys should ‘stand back and stand by’ | CNBC [2020-09-30]

Proud Boys Celebrate President Trump’s Callout To Them During Debate | TODAY [2020-09-30]

Editorial: If the Affordable Care Act is Repealed, We All Lose

On November 10, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the Trump Administration’s arguments in its lawsuit to abolish the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or “Obamacare”). One of the promises Donald Trump ran on in 2016 was to strike down Obamacare, which he frequently calls “a disaster.” Ten years after the Obama Administration passed the Affordable Care Act, many Americans are still confused or completely in the dark about what it is, and how it impacts them. This is due in large part to misinformation and conspiracy theories spread (and even paid for) by opponents of the Affordable Care Act.

Though Donald Trump has promised a bigger, better health care plan to replace Obamacare, the unveiling of his plan has been “two weeks away” for more than three years. The GOP has made some weak efforts to create a replacement plan, but they have not been able to reach agreement on a bill. It’s clear that destroying the ACA is more important to Donald Trump and his base than ensuring that Americans have viable access to affordable health care.

If the Trump administration’s efforts to eliminate Obamacare are successful, it will impact most Americans with health care coverage in some way, even if they receive private health insurance through an employer. Many Americans are not aware of the protections the Affordable Care Act has created for all health care recipients in the U.S., regardless of where they get their health care coverage. Some of these are benefits that we all have come to take for granted. Others that impact all of us are less well-known.

Pre-Existing conditions

One of the most popular aspects of The Affordable Care Act is its requirement that insurers cover patients with pre-existing conditions at no additional charge. This means that insurers may not deny coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, and they are not allowed to charge higher premiums. After the passage of the Affordable Care Act, many Americans could, for the first time, afford to purchase competitive health insurance.

Though Donald Trump promises that his health care plan will continue to cover those with pre-existing conditions, he has not committed to how it will cover them; will they be covered, but at an exorbitant cost, as was the case with many insurers before the Affordable Care Act? Will they be subjected to extended waiting periods, or only be offered limited coverage? Will Trump disregard this promise regarding pre-existing conditions altogether?

This is an important consideration, as it’s estimated that, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, 19 to 50 percent of non-elderly Americans have pre-existing conditions. The spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. will increase that number, as many “long-haulers” who have survived the virus continue to suffer organ damage, respiratory issues, neurological issues, and more.

Wellness and preventive visits

Before the Affordable Care act, many private insurance companies didn’t cover wellness exams, or they only covered a percentage of the cost. The Affordable Care Act requires that all wellness and preventive visits be covered, and that they require no co-pay. In this category are not just basic annual physical exams, but regular gynecological exams, chronic disease management visits, domestic violence screening, and maternity and newborn care. Covering preventive and well-patient care keeps costs down for everyone, since health care providers can often find and treat illnesses before they become costly and even life-threatening.

A complaint that many Americans who oppose Obamacare have is that they have to pay for services they don’t need (such as maternity care). In reality, all insurance plans cover services that not every subscriber will need. Covering preventive care, and including maternity and newborn care in that coverage keeps costs down for everyone by reducing the number of emergency room visits, neonatal ICU admissions, and other costly services.

Coverage of pre-existing conditions and wellness visits are the two most widely-known and widely used benefits and protections we’ve gained from the Affordable Care Act. Here are some additional ones that could also disappear with the dismantling of the ACA.

Medicare expansion

Though the Affordable Care Act expanded the Medicaid program, it also expanded Medicare benefits. One change has been to close the prescription drug “doughnut hole” that left some Medicare recipients, even those with health insurance, with huge drug costs. In addition, the ACA required coverage of more preventive benefits for seniors with Medicare.

Medicare recipients should note that Donald Trump not only wants to do away with the Affordable Care Act, he has also said he plans to eliminate the federal payroll tax. He wants Americans to think he’s giving them a tax break, but it is the payroll tax that helps fund Medicare.

Mental Health and behavioral health treatment

The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover mental health care (though often with a co-pay), as well as treatment for drug, alcohol, and other substance abuse issues. It’s notable that the people who want to blame mass shootings on mental health issues rather than on the availability of combat weapons to civilians, are often the same people who are in favor of doing away with the ACA.

Generic biologic drugs

A less-known benefit of the ACA is that it created a pathway for copies of costly FDA-approved biologic drugs, called “biosimilars,” to be available to patients who might otherwise not be able to afford such treatments. These drugs treat serious and life-threatening illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, macular degeneration, and cancer.

Before the Affordable Care Act, there was no regulatory pathway for approval of the generic forms of these drugs, and thus, they would have been completely out of the question for many Americans.

Funding to train more health professionals 

The Affordable Care Act assumes that if more people have health care coverage, more people will seek health care. Based on this idea, the ACA includes provisions for funds dedicated to training programs to increase the supply of health care providers— including physicians, nurses, therapists, and community health centers.

The Trump administration has a knack for shortsighted, non-strategic actions: the act of separating migrant children from their parents in 2018 without a plan for reuniting them, which resulted in some families being lost to each other to this day; the hasty Muslim ban in 2017 that left many stranded in airports, unable to re-enter the U.S., even with legal visas; the impulsive threat, via tweet, to send missiles to Syria; the many sudden firings of key government officials. The Trump administration’s plan to strike down the Affordable Care Act is just another such impulse without a plan or strategy.

If Donald Trump is successful in doing away with the Affordable Care Act, 29.8 million people in the U.S. would lose their health insurance, according to the Economic Policy Institute. That would more than double the number of people who are currently uninsured. But overturning the ACA would ripple through the economy, resulting in an estimated loss of 1.2 million jobs— and not just in health care.

According to a projection by the Economic Policy Institute, based on 2019, “The combination of tax cuts and spending cuts embedded in ACA repeal would reduce national job growth by almost 1.2 million… all else equal. That is because the spending cuts would hurt job growth more than the tax cuts would help it.”

Many Americans are sick, jobless, and in desperate financial straits as a result of the pandemic and its mismanagement by the same president who now wants to end their access to affordable health care. Though some Americans are oblivious to the  impact this will have, it will reverberate through not only our social welfare system, but also our health care system, and what’s left of our economic system, touching nearly all Americans in some way.

Sen. Ted Cruz on the Supreme Court and the future of health care |
CNBC [2020-09-28]

Biden on Barrett: Affordable Care Act is at stake | Associated Press