Earlier this morning, like I always do, I opened by laptop, popped in my earbuds, and got to work. The first podcast that came up was Nate Silver’s award-winning FiveThirtyEight Politics. In this particular episode, they addressed some burning questions that have arisen in just this past week, like Biden’s slide among Latino voters in Florida, and the potential tightening of the race. But one question raised on the show has stuck with me: is Trump immune to controversy and scandal? I think he is, which doesn’t bode well for November.
Constant scandals have forced Trump to deal with negative press throughout these four long years. Online, I found a complete list of 889 scandals that have come and gone since he took office in January 2017. Its size and magnitude is shocking. There are hundreds, and of such variety that the author of the article used eight colored labels to highlight the nature of each scandal. For example, black means that the entry relates to “white supremacy, racism, homophobia, transphobia, & xenophobia, while yellow means “collusion with Russia & Obstruction of Justice.” The variety of Trump’s infractions, as well as the sheer number of them, all suggest that he should have no chance in November’s election. And yet, he has kept within striking distance of Joe Biden throughout the entire race. How can this be?
In the sheer number of scandals lies the answer. Four years (or even longer, if you count his attacks on Obama) of Trump have made us numb to the damage he causes. When this question was proposed on the 538 show, my mind immediately went back to the first signs of trouble in 2017, and then tried to make its way through 2018, 2019, and the first half of 2020. I remembered the huge scandals: the Muslim ban, kids in cages, the attack on DACA. But what happened in 2018 and 2019 remains a blur. Herein lies the problem: Trump has done so much damage for so long that it has become so difficult to pinpoint anything in specific. That’s why these lists are so valuable (you can check it out here: https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/the-complete-listing-so-far-atrocities-1-889). By reading it, I remembered how Trump withdrew from the Paris Agreement, emboldened Neo-Nazis which led to the events in Charlottesville, and even tear gassing unarmed protestors earlier this summer, just to name a few. And this doesn’t even account for all of the praise of dictators, daily lying, and tweeting storms that have constantly happened, and continue to happen, throughout his presidency. It’s just so easy to forget.
And now we have Trump himself admitting to playing down Coronavirus, not wanting to incite a “panic.” And now over 200,000 people are dead, with tens of thousands of new cases every day. Any other president would stand no chance at reelection, based on this fact alone. But this will soon be buried by another scandal, which will be buried by another one, and so on. The numbness and forgetfulness that result from this process gives Trump a chance on November 3rd. The only way to break the cycle? Voting.
By David Traugott