In February 2020, as COVID-19 was gaining its foothold on America, the Trump administration was circulating various narratives vilifying the Democrats for their “role” in relation to the virus. In addition to the idea that the coronavirus crisis was overblown, or that it was a hoax, one of the predominant Trumpian claims was that the Democrats were hoping the virus would kill millions of people and destroy the economy so that Donald Trump would look bad and lose the 2020 election.
Now, in May, with 1.5 million cases and almost 90,000 deaths in the U.S., variations on this absurd line of thinking are still being pushed by some Trump allies. On Fox News this past Saturday, Eric Trump put forth a new version, accusing Democrats of “milking” the COVID-19 lockdowns put in place by state and local governments to help slow the spread of the virus. Eric Trump’s narrative about the lockdowns—and the story he wants the Trump base to believe—is that the Democrats are promoting the lockdowns in an effort to keep people at home and stop Donald Trump’s campaign rallies (another dastardly Dem plot to keep Trump from being re-elected).
“They think they are taking away Donald Trump’s greatest tool, which is being able to go into an arena and fill it with 50,000 people every single time,” said Eric Trump. “You watch, they’ll milk it every single day between now and Nov. 3. And guess what, after Nov. 3 coronavirus will magically all of a sudden go away and disappear and everybody will be able to reopen.”
In the way that some people who are ignorant of facts (like the fact that the coronavirus is a worldwide pandemic, and not just an American problem that will magically disappear in a day) but think they’ve slyly uncovered something sneaky, Eric Trump continued, “The Democrats are trying to deprive him (Donald Trump) of his greatest asset, which is that the American people love him, the fact that he’s relatable, the fact that he can go out there and draw massive crowds. Joe Biden can’t get 10 people in a room. My father is getting 50,000 in a room.” (Could not getting 10 people in a room have to do with the fact that Joe Biden is following those divisive lockdown guidelines?)
“And they want to do everything they can to stop it,” continued Eric. “So make no mistake, to a lot of them, this is a very cognizant strategy that they’re trying to employ. It’s no different than the nonsense they’re trying to throw into the Hope act, it’s no different than the mail-in voting they want to do in all of these places, its no different from their wanting illegal immigrants to vote in our country. It is a cognizant strategy.”
And as Eric Trump passes off what he’s saying as the truth to the Trump base tuned in to Fox News, the Trump base listens, repeats it, stretches it, posts memes about it on social media, and crowds into bars, restaurants, and churches to show that they’re not going to be taken in by this Democrat conspiracy to take down the president.
Likening media coverage of Trump’s impeachment, “the Russia thing,” and the “Ukraine scandal” to their criticism of the Administration’s (non)handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Eric Trump called the media the Democratic party’s “propaganda arm.”
“They’re doing it for one reason,” he said. “They want to hurt Trump.”
What Eric Trump is saying is that Americans, Democrat or not, think the way the Trumps do. He is implying that Democrats, and state and local governments whom Trump believes are against him, are so self-serving and so lacking in empathy that their only focus right now, during a pandemic, is on taking down Donald Trump. State and local governments haven’t put in place social distancing and lockdown guidelines to help slow the spread of a deadly virus or protect the vulnerable, they just want to keep people away from Donald Trump’s rallies.
Does Eric Trump believe himself when he says these things? It doesn’t matter, because what’s important is that the base does.
Most Americans—most humans, if they’re not malignant narcissists—are shocked by this idea. And because it takes a malignant narcissist to be able to see any reasonableness behind such a motivation, the idea that Eric Trump and his ilk expect their base to believe such a suggestion says more about them than about the Democrats.
The U.S. leads the world in confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths. But Eric Trump, like his dad, wants to distract Trump’s base away from these frightening facts. The Trumps are willing to put the health, safety, and lives of Americans aside and make it all about Donald Trump’s re-election.
Using the base’s magical inciting vocabulary (“tyranny,” “personal liberty,” “communism/socialism,” etc.) Trump stirs them up to oppose the lockdown orders and social distancing guidelines. Told over and over again that the lockdowns are political, the base focuses its concern to Donald Trump’s re-election, disregarding caution to assemble in large gatherings where they’ll talk, sneeze, breathe, and cough possibly viral droplets onto each other.
Perhaps what’s even more troubling than the idea that a leader would encourage supporters put their health at risk by protesting guidelines put in place to keep them safe, is the fact that there are Americans who are willing to throw their lives on the line for a leader who has repeatedly shown, even by his very encouragement of their opposition to lockdowns, that he couldn’t care less whether they do live or die.
Eric Trump Says Coronavirus Will “Magically Go Away” After 2020 Election | Reflect [2020-05-17]
Draconian shutdowns ‘hurting Trump’s chance of re-election’ | Sky News Australia [2020-05-02]