Susan J. Demas: Trump’s crazy 2 weeks underscore just how much we’ll lose if he wins in 2020

August 29, 2019 6:07 am

Donald Trump | Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

President Donald Trump is diverting disaster funds during hurricane season to his precious border wall. Migrant children are being raped, falling ill and dying in border concentration camps. His administration is planning to stop regulating the greenhouse gas methane as the Amazon is literally on fire.

Trump has managed to unleash even more mad-king rantings than usual, from pleas to nuke hurricanes to demands to buy Greenland to declaring himself the “Chosen One” as he gazed at the heavens.

This is hardly a complete list of the insanity of just the last two weeks brought to us by a man most sentient beings know isn’t fit to be president.

During the almost three years of the Republican’s rule, we’ve endured more than 12,000 documented lies and endless dictatorial-style attacks on the media as the “enemy of the people.” Trump has openly announced he’ll take foreign intel on his Democratic opponents after accidentally admitting the Russians meddled on his behalf in 2016. He’s asked allies to break the law and promised pardons. And he’s stacked the courts with unqualified right-wing nutjobs to rubber-stamp his lawlessness and extremist agenda — and those of several GOP presidents who will come after.

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And again, this is just off the top of my head. The sheer volume of his cruelty, as the Atlantic’s Adam Serwer has argued — is the point. So is the craziness.

It is utterly exhausting.

But thanks to wealthy donors overjoyed by tax breaks and a base (in the truest sense of the word) that revels in Trump’s vile racism, his 2020 campaign is rolling in dough. He may well be reelected and there’s no point pretending otherwise.

Not surprisingly, Michigan and the Upper Midwest remain objects of intense national fascination, as the “blue wall” that crumbled for Trump three years ago. There are two main genres, which are both rather terrible in their own way.

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There’s the national parachute-into-a-rundown-Macomb-County-diner story, chock-full of quotes from blue-collar white men who love the president no matter what. (If I were smarter, I’d ditch this whole journalism thing and invest in a bot who could just generate the same #content, make a fortune and nab one of those sweet Trump tax cuts).

Almost all these pieces oddly pretend as though the 2018 blue wave didn’t crash across the Midwest, as does the mind-numbingly boring cable-news punditry that Trump beating Hillary Clinton proves women just can’t win.

As I’ve pointed out ad nauseam, including to more than a few national writers who call for their Macomb County safari expeditions, women ran the table in Michigan last year, winning every top statewide office (except lieutenant governor) starting with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who every Democratic presidential contender is smartly courting for an endorsement.

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The second type of story is the breathless horserace post based on the poll of the moment, which is often weirdly rooted in the assumption that the race will never change (which helps explain the wild overcorrection in coverage that occurs when things inevitably do). I’ve done hundreds of these pieces over the years and could write them in my sleep. They’re quick and easy — and I honestly can’t remember a single word I’ve written because they’re also utterly irrelevant.

The latest EPIC-MRA poll shows Trump losing to four top Democratic hopefuls: former Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). That’s all well and good, but no one has voted yet and the Iowa caucuses are still 158 days away.

Cory Booker, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at the second Democratic debate | Andrew Roth

Neither genre manages to really capture what the next election will be about. Here’s a dirty little secret: That’s because nobody knows. So that’s why you get endless coverage assuming 2020 will just be a retread of 2016 or that polls more than a year out from an election are destiny.

We can look back at recent history and see that most presidents are reelected, especially if the economy is humming along (which, of course, is an open question for ’20, thanks to Trump’s asinine trade war and uber-wealthy tax cuts). The Republican’s war chest and willingness to weaponize his administration for his electoral gain are also powerful assets.

But if he’s not, it will probably be a combination two groups: folks who are just done with Trump’s drama-queen antics and dream of a day when you can actually forget who’s president and progressive activists willing to put in the work for whoever the Democratic nominee is — just as they did in last year’s midterms — instead of falling prey to internecine warfare like in ’16.

Glen Lake | Susan J. Demas

Like many people, I wake up every morning praying the 2020 election is already in the history books so I no longer am inundated with stories about candidates chomping on corndogs at the Iowa State Fair or squabbling over minutiae in their universal health care plans that likely U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will gleefully squash on day one.

But I’m not sure any of us can imagine what another four years of Trump’s lunacy would truly look like. America has already lost too much of our humanity. And I honestly don’t know how we would ever truly come back from that.

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 21-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 4,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 70 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.