While Trump plays with matches, the USA is a tinderbox…

Before the big pause, I was amazed at how Trump had managed to get through three years of his presidency without any major catastrophes. He has had an entire stream of smaller scandals that would have taken down a less shameless leader but he managed to bumble through.

In a strange way, I admire Trump. To be able to look people in the eye and tell such barefaced lies is a real skill. To be caught telling over 5000 lies and still have absolutely no shame about it is impressive.

But as he enters his (hopefully) final furlong as President, he is getting an entire omnishambles of disasters all at once. Over 100,000 dead from Covid-19 so far, with total estimates put at 200,000 by the end of his Presidency. An economic collapse with a 20% unemployment rate, and just for good measure race riots all over the country.

African Americans have a right to be angry about the brutal murder of George Floyd by police officers. For a lot of poor Americans, the police are not there to serve and protect: they are an Army of Occupation. Many police officers in the US are overly-aggressive, trigger-happy ex-military types – not exactly a good mix for community relations. The militarisation of the American police is a terrifying development. It must be stressed that most cops are decent and have been repulsed by the killing: some have even joined the protesters.

Many police forces in the American South were formed initially to recapture escaped slaves so there is a long history of tension between the police and the black community. Minorities have a whole host of special crimes like walking while black, and driving while black, and most dangerous of all running while black.

Trump, of course, could not resist adding fuel to the flames by tweeting ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts.’ As the New York Times reports:

In saying “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Mr. Trump echoed a phrase coined by a Miami police chief in the 1960s about crackdowns on black neighborhoods during times of unrest. Walter Headley, the Miami police chief in 1967, warned that young black men whom he called “hoodlums” had “taken advantage of the civil rights campaign,” and added, “We don’t mind being accused of police brutality.”

One thing is certain: things will likely get worse before they get better. America is in for a long hot summer. Who knows how a cornered, failing Trump will lash out? The most obvious thing he might try is a war with China to distract from his problems at home but you get the feeling that will not wash with a very divided, angry population. Or he might double down on division and hope for a white backlash.

Whatever happens, one thing is for sure. There could never be anyone more ill-suited than Trump to be in charge of such a time of crisis.

DC George Floyd Protest (I)” by Nrbelex is licensed under CC BY-SA