The Trump clan is bullish on reopening the American economy, urging millions of Americans to get back to it, despite persistent fears and significant risks that accompany doing just that. President Donald Trump, on a personal level, seems to have completely moved on from the still simmering pandemic, even as 20,000 new cases of the coronavirus are diagnosed daily. Despite signs that this thing is not yet over, Trump desperately needs to rev up American confidence in the economy, which he hopes will, in turn, boost his chances to stay in office. Professional son-in-law Jared Kushner articulated this White House economic boosterism on Fox News, telling Fox & Friends two weeks ago, “I think you’ll see by June that a lot of the country should be back to normal, and the hope is that by July the country’s really rocking again.” That’s some optimism. The Trumps seem to be particularly bold in gambling other people’s lives and livelihoods. What about when it comes to their own jobs that are up for renewal in November? Not so much.
When asked about the looming Nov. 3 election and whether the pandemic could somehow lead to the postponement of the contest, the Trump senior adviser by marriage told Time magazine, “I’m not sure I can commit one way or the other.” Kushner said of holding the election on the first Tuesday in November: “Right now that’s the plan.” The plan? Like the plan was to meet for a quick bite before the movie, but we didn’t have time so we just skipped it and went straight to the theater instead? “I have not been involved in, nor am I aware of, any discussions about trying to change the date of the presidential election,” Kushner tried to clarify later to the New York Times. That would be reassuring, but these guys lie about anything and everything, even the things that don’t matter and they didn’t need to lie about in the first place.
The U.S. presidential election is, by law, held “the Tuesday after the first Monday in November” and has been since 1845. Kushner acknowledged in his remarks to Time that the executive branch doesn’t have the power unilaterally to change the date of the election, as it would require Congress to alter the law. But “the law,” as written, hasn’t stopped the Trump Train from bulldozing through things that were once considered sacrosanct in American life either to enrich himself or prop up his political conspirators. You don’t think that could happen again? Comments like Kushner’s are how it starts, insinuating the election is negotiable. That they’ll do their best but can’t promise anything. Trump’s presumptive opponent Joe Biden has already said as much, warning during a fundraiser last month, “Mark my words, I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow—come up with some rationale why it can’t be held.”
Should you go to your job at a meatpacking plant? Absolutely, the Trump administration says. On the factory line? Get out there, heroes! Should America get back to working? Stick a mask on, you’ll be fine. Consuming? As soon as possible, please. Voting? Well, jeez, we’re not totally sure we can commit to voting. That might be a bit risky. You’d really hate to see people unnecessarily voting *in these troubled times.* I mean, who knows, probably best to exercise “an abundance of caution” on that one.
Mail voting? Nah. That’s cheating, the president says. Extraordinary measures to expand safe access to the vote during this already extraordinary election? Nope. People might actually vote that way. Even if Trump and his allies don’t alter the date, they will do everything in their power to impede the process and impugn the result. They’re already doing just that.