The 2020 Election, a Race in Which Everything Happens and Nothing Matters

Susan Glasser in The New Yorker:

Does anything matter anymore in American politics? In the week since Donald Trump’s Convention ended with a personality-cult party on the White House lawn, the President has completely refocussed his campaign on threats to law and order from “Rioters, Anarchists, Agitators, and Looters.” He has suggested there will be a “Rigged Election”; urged supporters in North Carolina to commit election fraud, by voting twice; and likened protesters demanding racial justice to “Domestic Terrorists.” The President personally ordered a review of federal aid, with the goal of withholding funds from “anarchist” Democratic-run cities that have allowed “themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones.” And he has baselessly alleged that his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, is taking some sort of “enhancement” drug, and claimed that Biden is the pawn of shadowy “dark forces.”

On his Twitter feed, Trump repeatedly promoted misinformation about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic while also attacking “Crazy Nancy Pelosi”; the “highly political” National Basketball Association; the governor of Oregon; the “wacky Radical Left Do Nothing Democrat Mayor of Portland”; the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, and his brother, CNN’s Chris Cuomo; and various other figures in the “Enemy of the People” media, including the conservative Internet aggregator Matt Drudge and MSNBC’s “very untalented” Joy Reid. Trump’s Administration, meanwhile, is withholding briefings on election interference by Russia and other foreign powers from congressional intelligence committees and telling leaders in key battleground states to be prepared for a coronavirus vaccine, which may be approved by the government just days before the election. And that’s just this week.

The rest of the news in Trump’s America, two months before Election Day, is equally gutting: twenty or so U.S. states have rising cases of covid-19, and, as many schools and universities reopen, the numbers are expected to grow. On many days, more than a thousand Americans die as a result of the pandemic. By comparison, in the worst week of the Vietnam War, just more than five hundred American personnel died, the national-security expert and former C.I.A. official David Priess noted. All told, American deaths from covid-19 are approaching two hundred thousand. Mass unemployment continues, and many companies are bracing for new, more permanent layoffs. Food banks are overwhelmed. Congress, stuck in an impasse between House Democrats and Senate Republicans, has failed to pass a new round of economic relief, and the initial aid package for small businesses and the unemployed has run out. The national debt as a share of the economy has reached its highest level since the Second World War.

None of this, apparently, has any electoral consequence.
More here.