By Robert Reich
“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,“ Trump boasted in 2016.
Trump’s 5th Avenue principle is being tested as never before. So far, more than 214,000 Americans have died from Covid-19, one of the world’s highest death rates – due in part to Trump initially downplaying its dangers, then refusing responsibility for it, promoting quack remedies for it, muzzling government experts on it, pushing states to reopen despite it, and discouraging people from wearing masks.
Yet some 40 percent of Americans have stuck by him nonetheless. They’ve remained loyal even after he turned the White House into a hotspot for the virus, even after he caught it himself, and even after asserting just days ago that it’s less lethal than the flu. A recent nonpartisan study concluded that Trump’s blatant disinformation has been the largest driver of COVID misinformation in the world.
They’ve stuck by him even as more than 11 million Americans have lost their jobs, 40 million risk eviction from their homes, 14 million have lost health insurance, and almost one out of five Americans with kids at home cannot afford to adequately feed their children.
They’ve stuck by him even though more Americans have sought unemployment benefits this year than voted for him in 2016, even after Trump cut off talks on economic relief, even though he’s pushing the Supreme Court to repeal the Affordable Care Act, causing 20 million more to lose health insurance.
Trump is in effect standing in the middle of 5th Avenue, killing Americans.
Yet here we are, just a few weeks before the election, and his supporters still haven’t budged. The latest polls show him with 40% to 43% of voters, while Joe Biden has a bare majority.
The most egregious test of Trump’s 5th Avenue principle is still to come, when he tries to kill off American democracy. He’s counting on his supporters to keep him in power even after he loses the popular vote.
He’s ready to claim that mail-in ballots, made necessary by the pandemic, are rife with “fraud like you’ve never seen,” as he asserted during his debate with Biden – although it’s been shown that Americans are more likely to be struck by lightning than commit voter fraud.
He’ll likely allege fraudulent election results in any Republican-led state which he loses by a small margin – such as Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin.
Then he’ll rely on the House of Representatives to put him over the top.
“We are going to be counting ballots for the next two years,” Trump warned at a recent Pennsylvania rally, noting “we have the advantage if we go back to Congress. I think it’s 26 to 22 or something because it’s counted one vote per state.”
He was referring to the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, which provides that if state electors deadlock or can’t agree on a president, the decision goes to the House. There, each of the nation’s 50 states get one vote.
That means small Republican-dominated states like Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming (each with one House member, who’s a Republican) would have the same clout as large Democratic states like California (with 52 House members, 44 of whom are Democrats).
Trump does have the advantage right now: 26 state congressional delegations in the House are now controlled by Republicans, and 22 by Democrats. Two — Pennsylvania and Michigan — are essentially tied.
But he won’t necessarily retain that advantage. The decision would be made by lawmakers elected in November, who will be sworn in on January 3 – three days before they’ll convene to decide the winner of the election.
Which is why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is focusing on races that could tip the balance of state delegations – not just in Pennsylvania and Michigan but any others within reach.
“It’s sad we have to have to plan this way,” she wrote in a letter to her colleagues last week, “but it’s what we must do to ensure the election is not stolen.”
Trump’s 5th Avenue principle has kept him in power despite deprivation and death that would have doomed the presidencies of anyone else. But as a former New Yorker he should know that 5th Avenue ends at the Harlem River at 142nd Street, and the end is near.
Robert Reich is the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the the twentieth century. The author of many books, including the best-sellers Aftershock, The Work of Nations, Beyond Outrage and, Saving Capitalism. He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, “Inequality For All.” Reich’s newest book is “The Common Good.” He’s co-creator of the Netflix original documentary “Saving Capitalism,” which is streaming now.
Some random thoughts for the talking heads , the media and our politicians to ponder.:
Welcome to a world where good is bad and bad is good. What insanity has led us to this madness? The world is going to hell in a handbasket. We see alot of fingerpointing and blame casting. No one has the guts to take any responsibility for their actions.
We can see the madness here in Palm Coast, in the Florida Legislature and at the federal levels of government. Both sides of the aisle are guilty, all because their power and control of the masses is at stake. We are here to let you know that the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence. Watch what you ask for as you just might get it.
Sometimes when you win you lose and when you lose, you win.
S. A. Tan says
If Heads where Tails
Rick G says
People should listen and read Robert Reich.
Ironic that President Trump’s Grandfather died of the Spanish Flu and he fails to have compassion for those who have either been afflicted with or died from Covid-19.
Well. Now that I see all the qualifications he has to write such a article. In particular “He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the the twentieth century. The author of ….”. Now I see why the article is sooo slanted , thank you. I will NEVER. EVER. Waste a moment of my life on this site. I can see clearly now .
Billy C. says
As usual, the Trumpites challenge the author instead of the issues. We are part of the Republican great experiment: herd immunity. They authored it, they are implementing it and by your support you are willingly abetting it. Nothing in this article has to do with the author, but it does have to do with you and what you will tolerate from the POTUS. I’ll check back with you when we reach the 300,000 death mark. See if your comments will still be about the author of an article or about the issue.
Rich Santomassino says
He is also a professor at a major University and the author of best selling books. What exact qualifications are you looking for? Someone who has been in trump’s administration? See Elizabeth Neuman, James Mattis or John Kelly. Pulitzer prize winning author? See Bob Woodward. Trump relative? See Mary Trump.
Somehow, Marie, I think you are one of the trump supporters the article is referring to. You can continue with your head in the sand until he is carted off to jail and even then you will call that a “fake” conviction.
Trailer Bob says
Head in the sand? The headline on this story is false as can be, as “Trump—Gun in His Hand and a Bloody Shirt—Standing on Fifth Avenue” is not a truism and blatantly fictional.
And this type of crap comes from the nuts on both sides of the isle.
Not professional writing, to state the truth.
There is enough bizarre reality out there without making up what is to appear as truth.
Emotions are now replacing reality and logical thought. Sad…
To bad you don’t know the facts!!! You are a liberal and it comes out in your writing!! Propaganda!!
What is propaganda in the article? I believe the author stated facts. Your anti-liberalism is blinding your ability to see anything objectively.
More of Reich’s broken-record rhetoric. Look over the list of Covid-19 calamities that Reich has blamed on Trump. If Hillary or Biden had been in charge, would things have been drastically different? Democrats denounced Trump in late January for shutting down China flights? Are they saying now the air shutdown should have been tougher and broader? The PPE shortage originated in the Obama/Biden administration. Covid-19 control has been left largely to the states. Are Democrats saying the federal govt should have sole control?
As the buffoonery on the Hill wanes fades out and fizzles to dust in the Wind I can only Hope that the continuous daily exhausting Drama comes to a swift end
A. J. says
We as Dems need to flood every voting precinct around the country. The smallest towns and villages to the biggest cities in the country. We need a blitz of dem. voters to get all the repubs. out of office. I know that is fantacy thinking but we can flip a lot if repub. seats if we glood every precint in the USA. and vote these crazy repubs out of office. We must vote in record breaking hugr numbers. PLEASE DEMS LET US VOTE IN RECORD BREAKING NUMBERS. GET THE REPUBS OUT IF OFFICE.
Can we please, please, please get beyond the “FOX MISINFORMATION” posted AGAIN and AGAIN by the CULT?
Here are the FACTS about the China flight “Restriction” :
It was a difficult week for discerning the reality of things.
TRUMP: “We would’ve had thousands of people additionally die if we let people come in from heavily infected China. But we stopped it. We did a travel ban in January. … By closing up, we saved millions, potentially millions of lives.” — Rose Garden remarks Tuesday.
TRUMP: He didn’t ban travel from China. He restricted it. Dozens of countries took similar steps to control travel from hot spots before or around the same time the U.S. did.
The U.S. restrictions that took effect Feb. 2 continued to allow travel to the U.S. from China’s Hong Kong and Macao territories over the past five months. The Associated Press reported that more than 8,000 Chinese and foreign nationals based in those territories entered the U.S. in the first three months after the travel restrictions were imposed.
Additionally, more than 27,000 Americans returned from mainland China in the first month after the restrictions took effect. U.S. officials lost track of more than 1,600 of them who were supposed to be monitored for virus exposure.
Few doubt that the heavy death toll from COVID-19 would be even heavier if world travel had not been constricted globally. But Trump has no scientific basis to claim that his action alone saved “millions” or even “hundreds of thousands” of lives, as he has put it.
Trailer Bob says
I believe those Foreign Nationals are United States Citizens.
Land of no turn signals says says
Can the headline be any more dramatic ???
Mike Cocchiola says
There is only one way to end the Trump debacle and fix America. Vote Tump and his enablers out of office on November 3rd in such numbers that there is no question of and no recourse to America’s complete rejection of Trumpism.
It is up to us.
Gary R says
From all the rallies I see President Trump winning by a landslide. Car rallies, boat rallies, tractor rallies, even Amish rallies. Where are the Joe Biden rallies?
They’re being held in Biden’s basement.
Steve Ward says
Wellll for sure if Rallies were what puts one in the WH. I dont deny he can Campaign and talk about himself atrack lie deflect accuse. But Hes no PT Barnum . Hes done been figuredand about to lose handily Gary. Orange or grape kool aid today?
Trailer Bob says
“Trump—Gun in His Hand and a Bloody Shirt—Standing on Fifth Avenue”
None of which is true, so what is your point?
Cut down on the coffee…
Poorman's Life says
Reich’s analysis in a nutshell
“Don’t assume we’re locked in a battle between capitalism and socialism,” Reich proclaims at the outset. “We already have socialism — for the very rich. . . Today the great divide is not between left and right. It’s between democracy and oligarchy.” Reich then proceeds to explain exactly how this sad reality has come about.
“Three big systemic changes over the last forty years have reallocated power upward in the system,” he writes. “They are (1) the shift in corporate governance from stakeholder to shareholder capitalism, (2) the shift in bargaining power from large unions to giant corporations, and (3) the unleashing of the financial power of Wall Street.”
As a direct result, the system is rigged to divert an ever-larger share of national wealth toward a tiny minority at the top of the pyramid. The upshot is that the overwhelming majority of us are forced to deal with this reality through three “coping mechanisms”: women steadily moving into the labor force, practically everyone working longer hours, with most of us being forced to “draw down savings and borrow to the hilt.”
Can we please get the FACTS on the China “restriction” straight?
The Associated Press reported that more than 8,000 Chinese and foreign nationals. . . ” based in those territories”. . . entered the U.S. in the first three months after the travel restrictions were imposed.
Why is it that those who claim to be unbiased continue to defend trump at every turn, no matter what he does? While I agree the title of this article is overwrought and inflammatory, the FACTS contained in the text need to be considered by “thinking” citizens. In addition, “over the top” the words in the title pale in comparison to so much of trump’s bullying rhetoric, name calling and down right lies. Why is it that he is given so much latitude for his immoral (and quite possibly criminal) words and actions by his often mindless, passionately devoted, FOX cult? For me, “THAT” is the point of the whole article!
Poorman’s life. . . excellent synopses when the “CULT” only wants to focus on the headline.
Distract, Detract, Misinform! They have an excellent teacher in the “white house”. . . which is especially effective after a good 20-30 year FOX brainwashing. It’s especially pathetic when you consider what absolutely “willing” suckers they are! They seem almost giddy to pay the taxes that trump and the other “BILLIONAIRES” DO NOT PAY! Perverse to say the least!