An unprecedented inauguration for unprecedented times.
After a mob attacked the Capitol on January 6th and over 400,000 U.S. deaths as a result of the pandemic, this year's inauguration is going to look a little different.
Crowds will be small or nonexistent, events will be moved online, and security will be tougher than ever. It will be a day of historic firsts, both good and bad.Some things will change, but the important things will stay the same. The Vice President and President will take the oath of office, and it will be the same oath it always is: An oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
1. Minimal attendance
The actual swearing-in ceremony is the most important part of Inauguration Day. And for the most part, it will proceed normally. As dictated by the Constitution, President Biden will be sworn in at noon on January 20th. He will continue the tradition of being sworn in on the Capitol steps.
It'll be no less star-studded than usual, with Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks, among others, expected to perform. There will be the normal recitation of poems and prayers, all concluding with a speech from the newly inaugurated president.
However, instead of giving this speech to the crowd of hundreds of thousands that usually populate the National Mall on Inauguration Day, Biden will give his speech to around 1,000 people and more than 191,500 flags.
Instead of the usual 200,000 tickets distributed to members of Congress and passed out to their constituents, organizers released just over 1,000 tickets — one for each of the 535 members of Congress and one guest each.
To make up for the minimal attendance, the Presidential Inaugural Committee planted more than 191,500 American flags on the National Mall, meant to represent the American people who can't attend Biden's inauguration.
Flags are placed on the National Mall, with the U.S. Capitol behind them, ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, in Washington.AP Photo/Alex Brandon
2. Virtual inaugural events
Inauguration Day is usually packed with events, all of which are usually packed with people. On a normal inauguration day there is not only the swearing-in ceremony but also a luncheon with lawmakers, a parade through DC, and finally the inaugural ball held at the White House. In a year where so many Americans have died of the novel coronavirus, the inaugural committee has decided to change how these events will be held.
The Inaugural Luncheon is usually a grand affair where all the members of Congress gather in the capitol for a three course meal immediately after the swearing-in ceremony. The tradition began in 1953, but this year it has been cancelled entirely.
The next event is the inaugural parade where marching bands, first responders, military units, and other proud Americans accompany the new president in his historic march from the Capitol to the White House. There has been some sort of formal inaugural parade since 1809, when James Madison was inaugurated.
This year, the parade will go virtual. Joe Biden will still make the trip from the Capitol to the White House, but there will be no cheering crowds. Biden will get a presidential escort there, which will include representatives from every branch of the military, as well as the drumlines for the University of Delaware and Howard University — Biden's and Harris' alma maters. But the main event will be the virtual "Parade Across America," featuring performances from all 56 states and territories.
The final events of the day are usually the swanky inaugural balls. The city is usually taken over by both "official" and "unofficial" balls. Official ones are sponsored by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, and guarantee that the president and his spouse will show up. Normally the whole city is taken over by donors, supporters, and celebrities celebrating the new president.
This year, instead of an inaugural ball, there will be a primetime television event. The "Celebrating America Primetime Special" will be hosted by Tom Hanks and feature an impressive celebrity lineup. Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Ant Clemons, Bruce Springsteen, John Legend and Foo Fighters will all perform. And Kerry Washington, Eva Longoria, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, José Andrés, Lin-Manuel Miranda and other big names will also be featured in some way.
Tom Hanks to host televised inauguration special featuring Justin Timberlake and Demi Lovato.Getty Images
3. Historic moments
This inauguration will be particularly notable because of its historic firsts. Kamala Harris will be sworn in as the first woman, first woman of color, first Black American and first Asian American to be vice president. Harris' husband, attorney Doug Emhoff, will also make history as both the first male and first Jewish spouse of a vice president or president.
Donald Trump is also making history on Inauguration Day–by not attending. Trump plans to fly to Mar-A-Lago the morning of the inauguration and will not attend the ceremony or welcome the Biden family to the White House. It has been 152 years since a President refused to attend his successor's inauguration.
The last president to refuse to attend was Andrew Johnson in 1869, and he was also an impeached, one-term president. Vice President Mike Pence will be in attendance for the inauguration, as will former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.
Kamala Harris accepts the Democratic nomination for as first Black female vice presidential candidate in Wilmington, Del., on Aug. 19.Erin Schaff / NYT via Redux file
4. Higher security
Inauguration security is always taken very seriously by the secret service, but after the riot that breached the capitol and delayed the election certification on January 6th, this inauguration will have unprecedented levels of security. The FBI has warned of threats to D.C., including to lawmakers and federal monuments, and all of Washington is well aware of the possibility of armed groups demonstrating in the District on Inauguration Day.
Inauguration viewers should expect a visible military presence, since a total of 25,000 National Guard troops are authorized to help secure the inauguration. There is also a seven-foot-high, unscalable, razor-wire fence encircling the Capitol.
Unlike usual inaugurations, several Metro stations are closed, a large portion of the city will be restricted for drivers, and a number of bridges that cross the Potomac River and Anacostia River will be closed.
There are also security checkpoints throughout the city. Those checkpoints have already resulted in several arrests, including a Virginia man who had fake inauguration credentials, a loaded gun, and more than 500 rounds of ammunition.
The U.S. Capitol is seen behind a fence with razor wire during sunrise on January 16, 2021.Samuel Corum / Getty
This will be an unprecedented Inauguration Day, but after seemingly countless months of "unprecedented times," what else could we possibly expect?
The future looks pretty grim.
It seems fitting that the Trump administration would go out with a bang. It also seems fitting that the bang would be unbridled white supremacy and blatant racism.
After the white supremacist insurrection at the Capitol, tensions have been high in anticipation of the January 20th Inauguration, with the whole country waiting on edge to see what how the transfer of power will go.
For a while, it looked like they'd have to drag Donald Trump out of the White House by his platinum wig. For a moment, it looked like there would be a coup. But the reality is much less dramatic but more insidious. Trump loyalists, it seems, are spending their last days seeping as much vitriolic rhetoric into the country (and presumably the White House floors judging by the news of a pre-Biden deep clean) as they possibly can.
Outgoing Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, took to Twitter on his last full day in office to say, "Woke-ism, multiculturalism, all the -isms — they're not who America is. They distort our glorious founding and what this country is all about. Our enemies stoke these divisions because they know they make us weaker."
Woke-ism, multiculturalism, all the -isms — they're not who America is. They distort our glorious founding and what… https://t.co/aKWpDCy5iT— Secretary Pompeo (@Secretary Pompeo)1611066600.0
The image attached to the tweet reads: "Censorship, wokeness, political correctness, it all points in one direction — authoritarianism, cloaked as moral righteousness."
There's so much to unpack here.
The basic logic of his argument is hard to parse. From the tweet it seems that he believes that multiculturalism is a divisive tool used by "our enemies" to "distort our glorious founding" — though who he refers to and what our founding entails he does not specify.
The ensuing logic, however, makes claims that denounce authoritarianism and moral righteousness. In Pompeo's mind, multiculturalism somehow does not align with the individualism he thinks will save us from authoritarianism.
To pick apart the nonsense of his argument would be redundant, so it is instead easier to call it what it is: racist.
The tenuous thread of his logic rests on the shoulders of white supremacy. The narrative is familiar but no less frightening. Pompeo tells a short story of how our country was, and could be, so great if not for the threat of the encroaching "other" contaminating the nation's proverbial purity.
The ensuing language may be vague, but the purist sentiments of his rhetoric are clear. His focus on "multiculturalism" is a signpost that signals his issue is not just with the left, but with BIPOC communities.
Beneath his cacophony of buzzwords, the dangerous, fascist sentiments of the past four years are all encapsulated into a reminder that the Trump administration and the people who perpetrated the harm and violence of it does not stop with Trump.
Whatever Trump was saying, it was definitely not that funny...
In truth, the barely concealed violence of Pompeo's rhetoric is engrained so deeply into the fabric of the United States that he might be right: Despite its insistence to the contrary, the US has purported to be a multicultural nation but has always been ruled by white supremacy.
Though this country claims to be about diversity and inclusion, so much of its history points to the opposite. But this is not the argument Pompeo is making.
There are valid claims about how, occasionally throughout US history, multiculturalism and the famous "melting pot" end up diluting people's cultures into a vague shadow of what they used to be. Pompeo, as a descendant of Italian immigrants, is a direct result of the dilution of Italian culture for the mantle of whiteness that he is so secure inside.
However, Pompeo is not calling for a more nuanced understanding of race, culture, and ethnicity.
He's calling for the same thing Donald Trump called for that brought on the Capitol siege, the same thing that has allowed racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy to persist as ruling bodies of this country — a scapegoat.
His vague language is intentional. It invites dissatisfied, disaffeced white people to substitute their ideals and their issues for the distortions and divisions he mentions, while uniting them against "multiculturalism."
While similar rhetoric has been spouted by this administration in various forms, its usual targets are the general left, or progressives and democrats. The focus on "multiculturalism" bypasses the white liberals he could be appealing to for unity against the "divisions" in our country.
The invocation of "woke-ism," a convenient neologism he makes up to orchestrate this tweet, fabricates another giant to distract from the actual "isms" most people would turn to … like, racism.
In fact, just deleting the first two words of the tweet makes a different argument altogether. Yes, I do agree that "all the -isms" distort the ideal vision of the country, but we have different "isms" and different ideals.
What's most frightening about this sentiment is that Mike Pompeo reportedly has ambitions to run for President in 2024. His key to winning: taking over the MAGA mantle.
Pompeo's sentiments coupled with his ambitions serve as a reminder that Trump's legacy is not going away with a Biden Presidency.
Despite Biden's calls for "unity," Trump loyalists do not want unity between all Americans. They want the vitriolic energy that put them in power to persist so that they can stay in power.
So far, Biden has elected a historically diverse cabinet, one which seems to exemplify multiculturalism at its best. But to make it its best, it's important that we do not take multiculturalism to mean tokenization, but rather the active process of representation, celebration, and learning that it should be.
What's happening in Washington D.C. is beyond comprehension. And yet we should have seen this coming. Many of us did.
Our elected leaders, our democracy, and the very fabric of our nation are being threatened by the current attempted coup in Washington. MAGA protestors have invaded the Capitol Building and threatened the lives of our elected representatives. They are carrying guns, and disrupting democracy. They are terrorists, and they are not being stopped.
THREAD OF PEOPLE WHO CAN HELP EVACUATE DC AND THREAD FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED HELP— professional smitty luver (@professional smitty luver)1609966317.0
January 6 started as a triumphant morning for Democrats. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won their races in Georgia. U.S. representatives gathered in the Capitol to count Electoral College votes. Even Mitch McConnell and Mike Pence renounced Trump's continued attempts to take over democracy. It seemed like a transition of power was going to happen smoothly.
But President Trump's supporters weren't going to let that happen. Their protest started peacefully outside the Capitol, and seemed like another group of Trump supporters making their last stand.
But somehow, MAGA protestors, Proud Boys, and attendees of this so-called "Save America Rally" broke through barricades and forced their way into the Capitol Building.
Stunning scenes from the Capitol https://t.co/DN60udjDyY https://t.co/8OF1Ibi8Wy— New York Magazine (@New York Magazine)1609965846.0
Somehow, improbably, the police and security allowed some to break into the building where our government officials — the people carefully and fairly elected to represent us all — were attempting to confirm the election of the next president.
The response to these protestors, and the inaction of the police and the National Guard, is almost unimaginably hypocritical. At Black Lives Matter protests throughout the summer, we saw teeming rows of cops circling protestors, shooting them with rubber bullets and arresting them in droves, often simply for marching.
Today, after destroying government property to break their way in, protestors appear to be walking peacefully around the Capitol, walking on the Senate floor, invading Nancy Pelosi's office, destroying property, striding over the marble floors, carrying machine guns. Members of Congress have been evacuated to secure locations.
If these had been Leftist protestors, if these had been Black and brown protestors, they would be in jail at best, or more likely shot by police.
we got tear gassed and shot at with rubber bullets for literally standing outside the georgia capitol building, lawfully, in June— Hannah Riley (@Hannah Riley)1609963244.0
Republicans constantly claim that the Department of Homeland Security and ICE are necessary to preserve the safety of Americans and that the military requires billions to protect America. But where are these people now, as American extremists storm the Capitol?
Imagine if #BlackLivesMatter were the ones who were storming the Capitol building. Thousands of black people layin… https://t.co/F7HEldgdUJ— Van Jones (@Van Jones)1609960841.0
What about when our own president goes against the prevailing logic of almost everyone else in positions of power and quite literally incites violence against the government? Where is the military, which is supposed to protect America, today? Where is the National Guard? Where is America?
Lost, certainly. Dead, possibly. It will take an act of magic or a miracle to revive us from this.
What we are witnessing is a collapse of massive proportions, an attempted coup that reveals the fragility of our democracy and the way Donald Trump has torn us all apart.
Currently, protestors are on the Senate floor. Members of Congress are cowering inside, calling their family members and assuring them they're alright.
A woman has been carried out on a stretcher, drenched in blood.
People are calling on the president — that insecure, unstable man — but his only responses have included tweets that demand the protestors to stay peaceful and respect the cops.
I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution by deman… https://t.co/0EtvVBfAkX— Joe Biden (@Joe Biden)1609968000.0
I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & O… https://t.co/XWZnbZWwze— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1609964006.0
Perhaps some of Trump's supporters' delusions that he is remotely competent or sane are finally collapsing, but it is too little too late.
Let us never forget that the President urged protestors to fight. There is no logic here except the logic of a coup, except the logic of violence, except the logic of extreme greed and insanity that has always defined Trump but that has now exploded out of the woodwork and infected the minds of thousands of Americans.
There is no logic here, just the abstract soundscape of collapse. Yet no one should really be surprised. We knew that the Proud Boys were planning a boogaloo, a Civil War. The threads and the comments and the threats were all there. Time and time again, we ignored them.
We know that Trump supporters subsist on lies own media outlets. We know that they are being inundated with lies — disproven by countless lawsuits — that our election was fraudulent. We know that many of our own Republican leaders sowed these seeds, continuing to support Donald Trump as he built up his firestorm of lies and insanity.
We know that there are so many factors to blame here, a buildup in tensions from the pandemic to Black Lives Matter to Democratic victories that has exploded here today. We know that Americans are suffering and afraid, all of us.
And yet never — not in the whole summer of protests, not ever in recent American history — have we seen an unobstructed invasion like this.
On the news, the scene is horrifyingly mellow. White supremacists are walking around the Capitol, guns flying, without opposition, without election, without fact to sustain them. Everyone else is absent or cowering in fear. These people are, unforgivably, not being punished; they are being allowed to walk free.
Just to be completely clear today, pointed questions like "Where is the teargas?" or "Why don't we see more choke s… https://t.co/XIZrEdwi8b— tj usiyan (@tj usiyan)1609961116.0
How do we even comprehend this? For now, some of us can at the very least hold fast to the fact that when Republicans criticize the "radical Left" for "violent" protests (AKA looting and damaging of empty buildings, at the most extreme), we will be able to remind them of the time when the more radical sect of their party — led by their beloved president — quite literally committed terrorism and infiltrated the Capitol and threatened our elected representatives' lives.
If we get through this, we know that we have a Democratic Congress. We must hope that in addition to addressing the pandemic, these bodies of government somehow figure out how to stop this from happening ever again.
I believe the Republican members of Congress who have incited this domestic terror attack through their attempts to… https://t.co/ZYHEboSa1i— Congresswoman Cori Bush (@Congresswoman Cori Bush)1609967177.0
It's getting dark soon. Stay safe, stay strong, Americans. Realize that this is white supremacy knowing that it is losing power and lashing out in the way it always has — with violence, intrusion, and destruction.
Facebook, Twitter, Fox News, and rightwing talk radio have enabled this. And the mainstream media has retreated beh… https://t.co/XNcovTn4jD— Robert Reich (@Robert Reich)1609966899.0
Realize that this is in America's blood and we are in the process of draining it out, but it won't go quietly.
Realize this is the spirit of American violence — colonialism and racism and all of their aftereffects — rearing its many ugly heads and, like a hydra, refusing to die, just growing back.
"[Trump] has never tried to put distance between him and the most violent fringe because he views their violence as… https://t.co/YX0HGZqB8B— Guernica Magazine (@Guernica Magazine)1604689319.0
Realize that there are terrorists in America, wearing familiar faces — faces we have been taught to respect but also faces that are willing to corner our democratically elected representatives, faces that are allowed to do so and, as I write this, are still doing so.
We are somehow closer and further than ever before from actualizing the dream of America, a world where everyone can be equal.
We are on the edge of Rome burning. We are both a promise of the best of humanity and a collage of the very worst of it. We can only hope that the truth will prevail in the end.
Ordinary people will need to stand up to make sure that democracy is preserved.
After four years with Trump, the day finally arrived. We the people were asked to decide if we'd endure another four years under his orange fist.
At least, it should have been all of our decisions. But ever since the race was called for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, whistleblowers across the nation—and even Trump himself—have been protesting the election results.
Trump has openly refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. His administration has attempted to reduce the number of ballots that will be counted in swing states. He rushed the nomination of a partisan Supreme Court justice just days before the election.
One week before the election, news broke that Trump had been trying to ask Republican lawmakers in swing states if they can ignore the popular vote and appoint Trump-supporting electoral college members. The list of warning signs goes on.
In light of all this, there were several ways that the election could have played out:
In the first scenario, Biden wins fair and square and Trump concedes. This could happen on Election Night, but it would most likely happen several days after the election, or depending on how counting ballots goes, the process could take weeks.
In the second scenario, Trump wins fair and square.
In the third scenario, Trump loses the election but refuses to relinquish power. He could do this constitutionally by refusing to offer a concession speech, or by directly mobilizing his supporters in his defense. He might also attempt to stop post-election ballot counting through legal or administrative means.
In the fourth scenario, Trump could appear to win, but his win will have either been doctored or influenced by non-democratic factors.
These two latter scenarios fall under the umbrella of a coup. They're also the two scenarios that have come to fruition. So what are Americans to do?
Expert compares Trump's politics to fascism youtu.be
Now that Trump has lost (and thus lost the protections of the presidency), he could end up in prison–his fortune gone. He has been millions of dollars in debt and has managed to con his way out of every scheme before, so he probably thinks he can do the same thing now.
But this won't happen in America, not with all this nation's powerful organizers, movements, and protections in place.
Everyday people have stopped coups before—but it always takes knowledge and a willingness to organize. Should Trump attempt to steal the election, every person who is able has to be willing to take to the streets and peacefully mobilize in protest.
The Protect the Results coalition is coordinating actions across the nation in response to every scenario. Youth movements and labor movements are planning on striking—the 100,000-member-strong MLK Labor Council is calling for a general strike if Trump refuses to step down, as is the youth movement coalition We Count On Us, a combination of Sunrise Movement, March for our Lives, and Dream Defenders.
Hold elected officials accountable.
The impetus for stopping a coup should, technically, fall on politicians and electors whose job it is to ensure a safe and fair election for all.
Democratic governors must appoint Biden electors, and the Democratic Party must refuse to concede should there be any sign that Trump is actively stealing the election. When it comes down to the wire, Congress must hold states accountable, particularly if Trump attempts to repress legally counted votes.
Elected officials were already promising to hold Trump accountable on Election Day. "We have our lawyers poised to move on a dime on Election Day or evening, as we see a problem," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the Huffington Post. "We're ready for it all. I would just like him to know it ain't going to happen for him at the end of the day."
Be careful where you get your information.
Media organizations have been preparing for a possible coup for months. Twitter labels tweets proclaiming false information as fraudulent, while Facebook may or may not be hosting irresponsible ads.
Media networks are also preparing for various cases, including a scenario where Trump still claims victory based on false information. Still, if Trump does attempt to claim victory, it's likely that his words will be aired far and wide by digital networks. Double and triple-check where you get your information, and be careful of sharing information, especially something that could cause panic.
Prepare for the possibility of a coup.
Remember that Trump's entire presidency has been marred by unlikely events.
"In short, Trump is trying to steal the election, more blatantly than any previous president, and providing a clear preview of how Republicans would move to further erode democracy if given another four years in power," writes The Week's Ryan Cooper. "It's an unusually clear and stark choice this election: a continuation of America's republican institutions, or its probable replacement with a tyranny."
Between Trump's efforts to sabotage the Post Office, his legal efforts to disrupt absentee ballot counting, and his refusal to disavow his supporters' violence, it is clear that Trump is not preparing to go gently into the good night. If tyranny is indeed afoot, we have but a brief window to stop it.
Believe that we will win.
"For the election to succeed, we have to think and act as if it will succeed," writes George Packer for The Atlantic. "Stealing an election remains extremely difficult, and almost impossible if the vote isn't close."
Though we must remain prepared for Trump to steal the election, we must also envision the future we want. There are millions of good people across America and hundreds of thousands of great leaders who have fought (and are still fighting) to make sure the election is run fairly.
Those who've demanded a fair election have righteousness, history, and the entirety of the Democratic process on their side, while Trump is a weak con man with an insatiable need to fill the gaping hole inside of him. He has made America an embarrassment to the world and has botched the COVID-19 crisis and launched us all into a depression. His time is over.
We just have to be ready to make sure he actually leaves.
Take care of yourself and your loved ones.
While we all have a role to play, no one is in this alone. If you've read this far, your anxiety about the election is likely off the charts. Take some time away from the news and send some love to friends and chosen family.
Accept the emotions you might be feeling (without blaming them on others), and do whatever you need to make yourself and your community feel loved and supported.
Neither Trump nor Biden has the ability to save or destroy the world, and fights for justice will go on and on, regardless of who's in the White House So get some rest, get ready to fight, and celebrate a fair, clean victory for democracy.
What could possibly end decades of American global leadership? Trump's Personality.
Donald Trump says his foreign policy is "America First," but in reality, it's "America Only."
He has spent the last four years sowing seeds of distrust amongst our Democratic allies while mending fences with strongman autocratic dictators. If America were to get into a major war today, it's hard to know what side we would be on and who would even be willing to help us.
Donald Trump abandoned our Kurdish allies in Syria.
As commander in chief, Donald Trump abandoned Kurdish allies in the Middle East, allowing Turkish forces to invade Syria. The Kurds had helped the US fight against the Islamic State since 2014 and are a part of the Syrian Democratic Forces, and they fought side by side with American forces for years.
Trump's sudden withdrawal was met with ire from American leaders on both sides. Mitch McConnell urged the president to reconsider, warning that "major new conflict between Turkey and our partners in Syria would seriously risk damaging" the U.S.-Turkey relationship. "American interests are best served by American leadership, not by retreat or withdrawal," he said. Even South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham called this retreat a "stain on America's honor."
Donald Trump is destroying our relationships with European allies.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to U.S. President Donald J. Trump during the second day of the G7 meeting in Charlevoix, Canada on June 9, 2018. Jesco Denzel/Bundesregierung
Trump often describes the European Union, whose membership overlaps significantly with NATO's, as a competitor rather than a close global partner—as it has been to every recent American president. He has threatened to pull out of NATO and at one point said the U.S. would "no longer deal" with the British ambassador. He also implemented a plan to pull 10,000 U.S. troops out of Germany without warning NATO or German Chancellor Angela Merkel. These are all huge divergences from the past, when the US shared a close and mutually beneficial relationship with Europe.
All Republican and Democratic presidents since World War II have expressed strong support for a united Europe and for NATO. However, Donald Trump has spent all of his time criticizing the alliance and accusing allies of not paying their fair share. Following Trump's threats, French President Emannuel Macron warned European countries that they can no longer rely on a Trump-led America to defend NATO allies. "What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO," Macron said. Trump responded by calling the French allies' words "very, very nasty."
Trump has also promised to pull out of the World Health Organization during the largest global health crisis in the last 100 years. The WHO is definitely not the most efficient organization, and certainly needs reform. However, unilaterally pulling out leaves our allies in a tough position, and surrenders the organization mostly to the control of its next largest stakeholder, China.
Trump has also brought tension to the G-7 alliance. The G-7 alliance is a group of seven major developed Democratic countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The Trump administration has repeatedly called for Russia to be readmitted to the group, which has created conflict with the other countries. In 2018 Trump refused to sign a joint agreement with the group that vowed to ensure "free, fair, and mutually beneficial trade" while fighting protectionism. Instead Trump doubled down on protectionist tariffs (taxes on imports from other countries) continually punishing our allies in Canada and the EU.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel described Trump's behavior as a "depressing withdrawal," while French President Emmanuel Macron invited him "to be serious." The extent of the damage became clear in 2020 when it was Trump's turn to host the G7 summit and Angela Merkel declined to attend, citing both the dangers of the coronavirus and Trump's decision to invite Vladimir Putin to the summit.
Trump's invitation to Putin also drew the ire of the UK and Canada, whose leaders came out publicly against the move. The summit was rescheduled to 2021.
All of these actions have weakened the United States' relationship with our strongest democratic allies, while simultaneously, Trump has praised and appeased some of the world's most notorious despots and autocrats.
Donald Trump is a Vladimir Putin fanboy
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and US President Donald Trump (R) in Hamburg, Germany, on 7 July 2017 Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/Anadolu Agency
Trump has been a Putin fan for years. Before he entered the White House, Trump wrote a series of adoring letters to Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the letters, which were released to the public in a Senate intelligence committee report, Trump told Putin that he was a "big fan" and asked him to be a guest of honor at a Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow.
Around the same time, Trump told Larry King that Putin had done "a really great job outsmarting our country" and told David Letterman that he himself had done "a lot of business with the Russians" and that Putin was "a tough guy." He later denied ever having met Putin.
When Joe Scarborough mentioned that Putin's Russia had been accused of killing journalists, Trump responded "He's running his country and at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country." Trump added, "I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe, so you know. There's a lot of stupidity going on in the world right now, a lot of killing going on, a lot of stupidity." Not a particularly patriotic statement. For context, at least 34 journalists have been murdered in Russia since 2000, while during the same time period 3 journalists have been murdered in the United States.
Trump's love for Putin has translated to wildly inconsistent policies. When Trump pulled us out of Syria, he left Russia with control of the area. Trump personally froze $391 million in US military and security assistance for Ukraine in their fight against Russia, Trump directed the Central Intelligence Agency to share more counterterrorism intelligence with Russia, and Trump pulled troops out of Germany a move which nearly two dozen Republican lawmakers said would "strengthen the position of Russia to our detriment."
Fellow Republican Charlie Dent who served in Congress for 13 years criticized the president, saying, "Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined a Republican President praising autocrats and advancing Russian President Vladimir Putin's foreign policy interests in Europe and the Middle East." Yet Trump has done exactly that.
Donald Trump loves dictators.
Trump and Kim Jong Un in 2018 AP
President Trump has spoken glowingly of many of democracy's greatest enemies. He said he fell in love with Kim Jong Un, who rules North Korea with extreme brutality. At a rally in 2018 Trump said, "And then we fell in love, OK? No, really, he wrote me beautiful letters, and they're great letters. We fell in love." North Korea is among the worst human rights violators in the world.
Trump has also formed a friendship with Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, an authoritarian leader whose country has the most jailed journalists of any country in the world. Turkey is technically our ally despite their undemocratic government since they're a member of NATO, but Trump seems to like Erdogan on a more personal level, hailing him as a "great leader" and saying Erdogan "has become a friend of mine."
He also considers Xi Jinping, the communist dictator of China, to be a friend. President Xi is known for ending term limits so he could rule for life, for detaining and torturing Uighur Muslims, and forcibly suppressing any dissent. Trump says of Xi, "And I like President Xi a lot. I consider him a friend, and—but I like him a lot. I've gotten to know him very well. He's a strong gentleman, right? Anybody that—he's a strong guy, tough guy."
Trump has referred to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi as "my favorite dictator," and said that "He's a very tough man, I will tell you that. But he's also a good man, and he's done a fantastic job in Egypt. Not easy." al-Sisi became ruler of Egypt after he orchestrated the military's July 2013 removal of Mohamed Morsy, Egypt's first freely elected president. This military coup included the killing of at least 900 protesters.
The trend here is that Trump seems to view "strong" and "tough" as the highest compliments, and refuses to confront dictators about their significant human rights violations.
Donald Trump has the lowest confidence rating amongst our allies.
Survey of American allies confidence in world leadersPew Research
A new 25-nation Pew Research Center survey shows that our allies in Europe have a particularly low opinion of Donald Trump. When asked if they had confidence that the US president would do the right thing regarding world affairs, only 28% of the UK, 10% of Germany, and 9% of France expressed confidence.
An even more recent 13-nation Pew Research Center survey asked candidates to compare 6 world leaders, Emmanuel Macron of France, Angela Merkel of Germany, Boris Johnson of the UK, Xi Jinping of China, Donald Trump of the United States, and Vladimir Putin of Russia. The survey examined attitudes towards the leaders, and overall Donald Trump received the most negative ratings among the five. Lower than the two dictators. A median of 83% across the 13 allied nations polled lack confidence in our American leader.
Trump himself is aware of the stark contrast between his relationships with our allies vs his relationship with our enemies. In a recording by Bob Woodward, he says, "It's funny, the relationships I have, the tougher and meaner they are, the better I get along with them. You'll explain that to me someday, ok? But maybe it's not a bad thing. The easy ones I maybe don't like as much or don't get along with as much."
But it's easy to explain: he gets along better with the strongman autocrats who hate the press and love looking tough, because he sees himself and everything he wants to be in them.
Trump's personality is irreparably bad for our national security. In August 2020, 130 Republican senior national security officials released a statement proclaiming that they believe Donald Trump has damaged the United States' standing in the world and has compromised our nation's safety. They stood together to publicly state that "The President has demonstrated that he is dangerously unfit to serve another term."
Read their entire letter here:
Donald Trump is not a real Republican, he is a big government, big-spending Nationalist.
The Republican Party has always been the party associated with smaller government and more freedom.
True Republicans think that the majority of governing should happen at the local level and big government has no place in America. Unfortunately, Trump doesn't seem to feel the same. Donald Trump is a big spending nationalist.
Donald Trump has issued more executive orders in his first term than Obama.
President Donald Trump holds up an executive orderLeah Millis/Reuters
Donald Trump scoffed at presidential executive orders as "power grabs" and a "basic disaster" during Obama's presidency. But, he's clearly changed his mind: In each year of his presidency, he has issued more executive orders than did former President Barack Obama during the same time span.
Trump has signed 184 executive orders in his first term, an average of 50 per year. That's more than Obama, who issued 147 in his first term, and more than George W. Bush, who issued 173. Executive orders are a way to get around congressional checks and balances, and Trump uses them liberally.
Donald Trump has tried to grab power from Governors.
Republicans have alway understood that local governments are the ones that know the desires of the people the best, and so they should have power to make the decisions that actually affect our daily lives. In fact in 2016, the GOP platform condemned the Obama administration's "bullying of state and local governments."
In contrast to his Republican allies, Donald Trump has no respect for local government. When governors tried to make their own decisions regarding the coronavirus and the handling of protesters, Trump told the press, "When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total and that's the way it's got to be. … It's total. The governors know that."
The local leaders, Trump said, "can't do anything without the approval of the president of the United States." This is both blatantly untrue and a huge blow to our federalist system that divides power between the states and the national government. The national government should stay out of our local politics. The president telling governors and state legislators how to govern is big government at its worst.
Donald Trump threatens the basics of democracy.
A peaceful transfer of power is an essential part of American Democracy—but not for Trump. "Well, we're going to have to see what happens," Trump said when asked if he would commit to a peaceful transition if he lost the election. "Get rid of the ballots and you'll have a very peaceful – there won't be a transfer, frankly, there'll be a continuation."
But the truth is we can't get rid of the ballots. As much as half of the country is likely voting by mail this election due to the coronavirus. To invalidate those ballots just because they might cause Trump to lose is a threat to democracy itself. Trump's threat is a threat against America. No U.S. president has said anything like this before. Ever. Real republicans know that. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell knows it, writing on Twitter in response to Trump's comments, The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20. There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792."
Trump has previously refused to say whether he would accept the election results, echoing his sentiments from 2016. And he has talked about staying in office well past the constitutionally bound two terms. Make no mistake— this is how democracy dies, with casual statements from a man who cares more about his ego than his country.
Donald Trump has driven up the national debt.
Conservatives should fight against all threats to freedom and government intrusion upon liberty — and fiscal imprudence. Donald Trump is the self-proclaimed "king of debt," but even he claimed he didn't want more debt for the country.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump promised he would eliminate the nation's debt in eight years. However, his budget for the next four years estimates show that he would actually add at least $8.3 trillion, increasing the U.S. debt to $28.5 trillion by 2025.
However, the national debt may reach that figure much sooner due to the extra spending on the late coronavirus relief. When President Trump took office in January 2017, the national debt stood at $19.9 trillion. In October 2020, the national debt reached a record high of $27 trillion. That's an increase of almost 36% in less than four years. That is not fiscal responsibility.
New data from the Congressional Budget Office shows that national debt is expected to exceed the size of the U.S. economy for the first time since World War II because of the massive federal spending programs enacted to prop up the economy during the coronavirus crisis. Of course Trump can't be blamed for the coronavirus, but he can be blamed for our response compared to other countries.
The US has more deaths than any country in the world, and we are in the top 10 for number of deaths per capita. The US continues to regularly report more than 1,000 new coronavirus deaths a day, which is one of the highest daily death rates per capita in the world. As a country with the leading medical experts, our handling of this crisis is embarrassing at best, catastrophic at worse. The Trump administration's mishandling of the virus will ultimately cost us billions, and the cost in American lives is incalculable.
Donald Trump has throttled free trade.
Trump has placed huge restrictions on free trade, to the detriment of our allies and the American consumer.Evan Vucci/AP Photo; Steffi Loos/Getty; Lintao Zhang/Getty; Jochen Zick/Getty; Shayanne Gal/Business Insider
The free market of capitalism relies on free and fair trade with other countries. But President Trump only cares about punishing his enemies. Unfortunately, Trump's enemies also include America's allies. Trump has placed huge tariffs on not only Chinese imports, but also imports from our allies in Canada and the European Union. President Trump drastically increased tariffs on solar panels, washing machines, steel, and aluminum, as well as on a broad range of products from China.
The Trump administration has repeatedly asked us to believe that foreign companies are paying for tariffs. But multiple studies suggest this is not the case: The cost of tariffs have been paid for almost entirely by American households and American business, not foreign exporters. While estimates vary, economic analyses suggest the average American household has paid somewhere from several hundred up to a thousand dollars or more per year thanks to higher consumer prices attributable to the tariffs. According to estimates from Tax Foundation, the Trump administration has so far imposed $80 billion worth of new taxes on Americans by levying tariffs on thousands of products, which is equivalent to one of the largest tax increases in decades. That's not free trade, and that's not small government. That is the government interfering in our daily life and in our economy.
Donald Trump increased socialist agriculture subsidies.
Trump's protectionist tariffs have also resulted in massive agriculture subsidies. Farm sales to China plummeted from $19.5 billion in 2017 to just $9 billion the next year after Trump's tariffs were enacted. As farmers continued to hemorrhage profits in 2019, farm bankruptcies jumped nearly 20%.
In response Trump has had to bail out agriculture because of a problem he created. Direct farm aid has climbed each year of Trump's presidency, from $11.5 billion in 2017 to more than $32 billion in 2020—all funded by the taxpayers. These subsidies are unsustainable and irresponsible.
Donald Trump has tried to restrict freedom of speech and press.
Free speech and press are essential American rights. They are the foundation of patriotism. As a truly free country, the press has always had the ability to criticize the government, and they have, not just in this current administration but in every administration.
True patriots live by the words, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." But Trump doesn't seem to care. Trump has praised a congressman who body slammed a reporter. He has threatened to change libel laws to make it easier to sue publishers and news organizations following the release of an unflattering book. He threatened legal action against a journalist and publisher over a book that includes critical statements about him.
Trump has said that "it's frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write, and people should look into it" (all the while publicly posting verifiably false information on a regular basis). He has threatened to cancel the broadcast licenses of media companies that offer negative coverage of him. He threatened to pull credentials of reporters who write "negative" stories about him, tweeting, "91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake)....Take away credentials?" He even unsuccessfully tried to rescind the press credentials of CNN journalist Jim Acosta after a heated exchange at a press conference, an action overturned by a federal judge.
These are not the actions of a man who believes in the freedom of the press, and the idea that free speech, no matter how negative, is essential to democracy. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, "To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
Donald Trump is unilaterally spending billions on his wall
President Trump's border has cost taxpayers $11 billion — or nearly $20 million a mile — to become the most expensive wall of its kind anywhere in the world. Contrary to Trump's promises, Mexico didn't pay; American taxpayers are paying. Even worse, only $3 billion was obtained with congressional approval.
Trump obtained that money largely by going around congress and taking money from emergency funds and siphoning money from our military budget. This unilateral decision to use federal funds is still being argued in court, as many believe it's an illegal and frankly authoritarian use of executive power. And the costs just keep growing. A ProPublica/Texas Tribune review of federal spending data shows more than 200 contract modifications, at times increased or changed within just weeks of the original contracts, have ballooned the cost of the border wall project by at least $2.9 billion since late 2017.
Final estimates for the total cost of the wall vary from $21.6 billion to $66.9 billion. That is a massively expensive structure. Furthermore, if this wall is ever finished, it will likely do little to actually reduce illegal immigration. This is because for the past 10 years, the primary mode of entry to the undocumented population has been to overstay temporary visas. That means the majority of illegal immigrants (62%) arrived here legally, and a border wall will do nothing to prevent them.
Donald Trump is trying to take private land from citizens
Pamela Taylor, 88, lives on the U.S.-Mexico border, where she and her children have put up a sign to say they don't want a fence for protection. Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS
So far, Trump's administration has completed 371 miles of wall (out of roughly 1,150 miles) according to CBP. Very little of that has added new fencing where there was none, though. Most of the work has been replacing shorter vehicle barriers and fences with more ostentatious 30-foot walls largely on land already owned by the federal government in Arizona and California. Much less work has been done in Texas, because most of that land is privately owned.
Trump's wall in Texas is tied up in court because using eminent domain laws to take land from private citizens is very unpopular. Texans like Eloisa Cavazo say they would never take a buyout from the government. "You could give me a trillion dollars and I wouldn't take it," she told the Associated Press. Some of the landowners sued have kept the properties in their families for generations, but Trump doesn't care about little things like property rights; in fact, he has always praised the "eminent domain." To build a border wall in Texas will require massive government intrusion into private property.
Trump's wall is more of a symbol than a policy–and it's a symbol that he is using taxpayer money to fund, illegally siphoning funds from more important military projects, and violating American property rights.
In the words of Republican political consultant Mark Madrid, "The only way to reclaim conservative principles is to both call out Trump's actions, vote against him and demand we return to a philosophy of limited government and not big-spending nationalism."
Republicans need to stop pretending that Trump is conservative. I'm not the only one who is disturbed by the twisting of conservative ideals. Here are some groups of prominent Republicans who agree with me and are working to remove Trump from office:
Republican voters against Trump https://rvat.org/
The Lincoln Project https://lincolnproject.us/
The Bravery Project https://thebraveryproject.com/
Reclaim Our Party https://www.reclaimourparty.org/
Christians Against Trumpism https://christiansagainsttrumpism.com/
43 Alumni For Joe Biden https://43alumniforjoebiden.com/
Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform https://repair45.org/
Republicans for Rule of law https://www.ruleoflawrepublicans.com/
Former Republican National Security Officials for Biden https://www.defendingdemocracytogether.org/national-security/
The party of family values has chosen a candidate without family values.
The Republican party has always been the party of strong family values.
Republicans have long championed the idea that families must be built with a strong moral compass at their heart. They must be built on strong marriages and good parenting. They must be built on trust. Donald Trump is an embarrassment to the party of traditional family values. Here's why.
Trump has been divorced–twice.
Donald Trump has been through 3 marriages and 2 very public divorces. Divorce is very common in our current culture, but we generally hold our presidents to a higher standard. (It's worth noting that divorce is technically prohibited in the Bible). In fact, he is only our second ever president to have been divorced.
Trump publicly cheated on his first wife.
The infamous New York Post headline "Marla boasts to her pals about Donald: 'Best sex I've ever had'" released in 1990.New York Post
Trump's marriage to his first wife, Ivana, fell apart when he began an affair with the model Marla Maples, which dominated the tabloids in the early 1990s. His very public affair even affected his children. "The children are all wrecks," Ivana told gossip columnist Liz Smith. "Ivanka now comes home from school crying, 'Mommy, does it mean I'm not going to be Ivanka Trump anymore?' Little Eric asks me, 'Is it true you are going away and not coming back?'"
Marital fidelity has always been a joke to Donald Trump. In a 1993 interview, Trump and Howard Stern engaged in a conversation about fidelity in marriage, with Stern relaying how Trump was shocked when he told him that he doesn't cheat on his wife. Stern said, "Donald asked me during the commercials — and I don't think you mind me saying it—he says to me, 'So you don't get it on with anybody? I said 'I'm really faithful to my wife' and he goes 'you're kidding? Really? What's that all about?'"
Trump had a child out of wedlock.
Even after his divorce was finalized in 1991, Trump chose not to make an "honest woman" out of his mistress Maples. A spokesperson, who many believe was actually Trump himself, told a People reporter that Trump would never marry Maples, and that he had "three other girlfriends" at the time.
So it's not particularly shocking that when Marla Maples announced to Trump that she was pregnant with Tiffany, his first words to her–as repeated by him on The Howard Stern Show in 2003–were "What are we going to do about this?" Yet despite Trump's possible insinuation that she should abort the child, in 1993 Maples gave birth to Trump's fourth child, born out of wedlock. Shortly after her birth, Maples and Trump finally married, but the marriage was short-lived.
Trump's current marriage is filled with scandal.
The divorce with Maples wasn't finalized until 1999, so Trump was still technically married when he met his next wife, Melania Knauss. The pair met at a party in 1998 and Trump was on a date but, as he recalled later, he was immediately drawn to his future wife, if not immediately in love. "I went crazy. I was actually supposed to meet somebody else," Trump recalled to Larry King on CNN in 2005 shortly after the pair were married. His marriage to Melania has been his longest, but it hasn't been without scandal. He has been accused of having multiple affairs throughout. The most credible allegations include an affair with Playboy model Karen McDougal in June 2006 and another with adult film star Stormy Daniels in July 2006. Both of these affairs allegedly took place only months after the birth of his fifth child, Barron Trump. Trump has denied both allegations, but the latter scandal made headlines when in 2018, The Wall Street Journal revealed that Stormy Daniels received $130,000 for signing a non-disclosure agreement just before the 2016 presidential election about her alleged affair with Trump.
Trump is an absent father.
The Trump familyCBS Photo Archive/Getty Images
Trump has 5 kids from his three wives, but wasn't involved much in their upbringing. His first three children were raised mostly by nannies and bodyguards. Don Jr. refers to his nanny as "the woman who raised us" and Eric Trump, the youngest of the three, claims that in a way he was really raised by his brother Don Jr. His fourth child, Tiffany, wasn't raised by Trump at all, but thousands of miles away in Los Angeles with her mother Marla Maples. Trump has openly expressed that he has no interest in the child-rearing aspects of being a father. On the Howard Stern show in 2005, he stated, "I mean, I won't do anything to take care of them... It's not like I'm gonna be walking the kids down Central Park."
Trump speaks very crudely about women.
In September 2005, Trump was caught on tape telling "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush that he was able to "grab" women "by the p---y" because "when you're a star they let you do it." On the tape Trump also talks about actively pursuing a married woman. "I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn't get there. And she was married." The tape was recorded just a few months after Melania and Trump were married. While Trump claims that this was simply locker room banter and not proof that he was actively cheating on his new wife, it is certainly not the kind of rhetoric you want to hear from any newlywed father of four, let alone a President.
Trump sexualized his own daughters.
Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka in Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, FL, in 1996. Brian Smith
One of Trump's most notorious quotes about his beautiful and refined daughter Ivanka is that "if Ivanka weren't my daughter, perhaps I'd be dating her." Ivanka was 24 at the time and Trump was 60. But that isn't the only time he has sexualized his daughter. In another interview with Howard Stern in 2003, Trump said his daughter had "the best body." In yet another chat, Trump gave Stern the okay to call Ivanka a "piece of ass." He even sexualized his daughter Tiffany when she was an infant. "I think that she's got a lot of Marla, she's really a beautiful baby," Trump said. "She's got Marla's legs. We don't know whether or not she's got this part yet but time will tell," he added, holding his hands in front of his chest to represent breasts. Because who doesn't want to talk about their infant daughter's future breasts?
Donald Trump is not a family values candidate. His history shows that he has no respect for the institution of family—except when it serves him and his business. Trump doesn't care about the things that make the Republican Party great.
But don't take my word for it. Real Republicans, the ones who care about family values, agree with me:
Republican voters against Trump https://rvat.org/
The Lincoln Project https://lincolnproject.us/
The Bravery Project https://thebraveryproject.com/
Reclaim Our Party https://www.reclaimourparty.org/
Christians Against Trumpism https://christiansagainsttrumpism.com/
43 Alumni For Joe Biden https://43alumniforjoebiden.com/
Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform https://repair45.org/
Republicans for Rule of law https://www.ruleoflawrepublicans.com/
Former Republican National Security Officials for Biden https://www.defendingdemocracytogether.org/national-security/
Making calls to Americans about Joe Biden was an illuminating, sometimes horrifying experience.
Like most people I know, I've been existing in a state of dread for all of October in anticipation of November 3rd.
In order to spend less time languishing in that dread, I've been partaking in small bouts of political activism in an effort to get out the vote. I've written the requisite several hundred postcards and made several strongly worded posts.
I've also been attempting to call voters. Earlier in the pandemic, I phonebanked for the first time—for progressive candidates in NYC, many of whom won their primaries. Fresh off that success, I felt ready to make some calls for Biden.
So I joined a phone-banking group mostly composed of people who had supported Bernie in the primaries and who don't love Biden, but who also don't want to see fascism overtake America. Appropriately named "The Misfits," the group tried to take a lighter approach to what wound up being a difficult process that proved what everyone already knows: America is bitterly divided.
After a quick training on my first day, we were sent off into the wilderness of Pennsylvania to contact random voters. I would say that around 30% of the time I talked to Biden voters, 30% were Trumpers, 10% were bots or trolls, and 10% were genuinely undecided voters. Here are five of the main types of people I encountered.
Type 1: The Undecided Voter
For those of us who are deeply enmeshed in politics, it can be incredibly difficult to imagine that anyone is still undecided. Biden voters who believe in climate change and devour the New York Times are as unlikely to change their minds as Fox News and Q-Anon devotees.
Those of us who hate Trump tend to really hate him, and we find it incomprehensible that anyone could admire or want to see more of this man–this disgusting, crude, weak little man who has allowed America to collapse into a pandemic and who has given up even trying to stop it. Trump supporters—well, we'll get to Trump supporters a little later.
But some voters are actually undecided. Several people I talked to sounded like they hadn't really thought much about the election at all. I couldn't know what they were experiencing on the other end of the line, but the truth is that not everyone has the time or energy to pour over political headlines each day.
Others had considered both candidates carefully and weren't pleased with either. Some people expressed a deep dislike and lack of faith in both Trump and Joe Biden, and were considering whether to vote at all.
Usually with these folks, I would start by asking if they believe in climate change in order to figure out if I had contacted a disgruntled Bernie supporter. If so, I would try to tell them that I, too, was not madly in love with Biden, but he represents by far the best chance to pass policies that will keep our planet and our people safe.
With a Biden presidency, I would say to undecided voters, progressive groups and people-first candidates at least have a chance to make serious moves on climate legislation and affordable healthcare. With a Biden presidency, the amazing down-ballot candidates we will elect in New York and across the country will actually be able to fight for the good of their communities. Biden has changed his platform a lot during the race thanks to pressure from progressive groups, and he represents an opportunity to actually make our world better.
I have known Joe Biden for many years. Despite our our differences, I can vouch for his decency and his belief in o… https://t.co/D7FuIp8J2U— Bernie Sanders (@Bernie Sanders)1603575900.0
In the best cases, it seemed like some of these people listened as I told them about how scared I was to see my birth state of California engulfed in wildfires, how much I wanted the pandemic to end, and how voting is also about voting for down-ballot candidates who actually are parts of their communities.
Some were willing to listen and others were not. And of course, some had made up their mind to be apathetic a long time ago. The most difficult to persuade, in my opinion, were the ones who had already given up hope.
If Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis, Cornel West and Naomi Klein are telling you to get it together and vote for Biden, a… https://t.co/MEwUNTi5F6— Jon Frosch (@Jon Frosch)1603862229.0
Type 2: The Depressed Conservative
I tend to think of liberals (and progressives, in particular) as the more concerned, upset, generally emotional side of the political spectrum. I still think this is true, but what I hadn't considered was that conservatives, on the whole, may actually be more depressed.
I came to this conclusion after speaking to several people who told me they were voting for Trump, and when I asked them why, they expressed a deep sense of apathy and even depression.
Like progressives, many Trump supporters I spoke to professed their belief that "the system" is broken; but unlike Biden, they did not appear to be remotely hopeful that the system could be fixed. Everywhere, there was evasion of blame. "People can't change the climate," said one angry climate denier. For her, climate change was an inevitability that she had no power over; she was, I realized, totally hopeless.
Joe Biden: #ClimateChange is ‘number one issue facing humanity’ "Biden has a $2 trillion plan that puts the U.S. o… https://t.co/rqhHXLZNRZ— Peter Strachan (@Peter Strachan)1603575939.0
Another Trump supporter I talked to believed in climate change, somehow, but also was convinced that "China" and "India" are inevitably going to destroy the world via emissions anyway so nothing America does matters. (Nevermind the fact that America is a centerpiece of the global economy, and that China has already implemented aggressive climate policies, etcetera).
What struck me about these people—admittedly a small, non-representative subsection of Pennsylvanians who picked up their phones at 8PM on a Tuesday—was their overarching sense of hopelessness, their feeling of smallness, their belief that the world could not be changed.
Because of this, I soon began to feel a bit of gratitude for the left's perpetual anxiety and fear. I thought: At least we believe in something. At least we're alive.
Type 3: The Family Follower
Another thing I noticed about Trump supporters I spoke to was that they often cited members of their families as the reasons they supported Trump. One man who I talked to for over 20 minutes said that he was voting for Trump because his parents were, but beneath that reasoning was a pit of nihilism and unhappiness that I suspected wasn't related to Trump at all.
Another Trump supporter to whom I presented my California wildfires story spoke for a long time about her husband, who was from (and loved) California. He had recently passed away, he had supported Trump, and she was going to vote for Trump no matter what because of him.
I'm not including these stories in an attempt to make a radical appeal for the humanity of Trump supporters, or to advise that our political differences will be solved if we all love each other a bit more. Trump and his policies have put and will put infinite numbers of lives at risk. This, of course, is part of the problem: People may support a candidate for emotional reasons, but our votes have very real political consequences on people's lives.
"A president who doesn't believe in science puts American lives at risk." —@PeteButtigieg reminding you that Biden… https://t.co/8kZKmptMqr— DJ Koessler (@DJ Koessler)1603460262.0
Instead, I mean to emphasize that Trumpism, judging by the Pennsylvanian voters I spoke to, feels like a demographic rooted in a deep, often suppressed allegiance to despair and a willingness to follow along with family members' wishes above all reason.
Type 3: The Hunter Biden-Obsessed Riot-Fearing Trumper
This will come as no surprise to anyone, but when I asked Trump supporters why they supported him, they cited two things: China and "the riots."
"The riots" were a major reason people were supporting Trump (nevermind the fact that "the riots" all took place, and continue to take place, under Trump). Black Lives Matter and Antifa are dangerous terrorist groups to these people—never mind the fact that right-wingers have been exposed for plans to kidnap and kill Gretchen Whitmer and to shoot Joe Biden in his home all within the past few weeks, or that the vast majority of protests, protestors, and Black Lives Matter organizers were peaceful (or that they happened under Trump, not Biden). Of course, one of these talking points will appeal to hardcore Trumpers—people who are obsessed with Hunter Biden and China will go down with that ship.
And in truth, shaming and blaming will never change someone's mind. Basic human psychology tells us that in order to change minds, we have to make people think they come to certain conclusions themselves.
When we argue about political issues, "The disagreement isn't really about politics. It's about psychology—about how we see the world differently," says Elizabeth Bernstein, a psychologist who is a Democrat married to a Republican. "Manifest content is what you think you're talking about. In this case, that is politics. Latent content is what you're really talking about, which is feelings and what the disagreement, or the act of disagreeing itself, stirs up." When actually talking to people (as opposed to getting in comment wars with them or writing smear pieces about them), we're often confronted by the presence of latent content and deeper emotional reasonings that get lost.
Regardless, hardcore Trumpers aren't the people who we should be appealing to in these last vital weeks of the election. My mind has blanked out some of the crueler comments people said over the phone, so I can't relate them here, but the conversations often left me exhausted. At one point, one caller (almost definitely a troll—I hope) confessed to a murder while on the telephone. Sometimes, people are just too far gone.
Type 4: The Biden Supporter Who Needs a Nudge
I have no doubt that Joe Biden can win the election, but I also believe that two critical populations remain: undecided voters and people who don't know how to vote.
This year, we may face incredible odds at the polls. The absentee ballot and voting processes are unnecessarily complicated in some places—in Pennsylvania, for example, you have to put your ballot inside the two envelopes provided. If you send it in just one envelope, it will be disqualified. Reports of faulty ballots have already popped up in Brooklyn.
Phonebanking is really about reaching people who want to vote but need some extra help. I spoke to one woman who hadn't known she could have her 93-year-old mother fill out an absentee ballot. When the votes come in, I'll think of them. And I'll remember, like the dangerous Antifa member I am: There is hope.
Type 5: The Biden Supporter Looking To Take Action
I didn't have very long conversations with most staunch Biden supporters, because most of those people were all ready to vote or had already voted. Normally, I'd just thank them profusely and move on. If anything, I'd try to ask these people if they were willing to contact a few friends about voting, or if they were willing to make some calls themselves.
So, if you've made it this far and if you are a Biden supporter who is definitely going to vote but still wants to help, it's your time to try phone banking! It's a truly rewarding, strangely addictive experience that can make a real difference.
Six days until Election Day. #ShowThemTheWay #IVoted https://t.co/w5Th2gJEvH— Stevie Nicks (@Stevie Nicks)1603911558.0
We are one week out from the election, and so if you haven't phonebanked yet, now is the time to start. In many ways, it's interesting, getting to listen to people living their real lives. The calls are, if nothing else, ways to connect to other humans. (Many of us have been quite isolated during this quarantine including myself). Also, there are few things like the high of getting someone to commit to voting who wasn't going to before. Type 4 is definitely the most satisfying type of person to call, because it feels like you're actually doing something—and this happens more than you might think.
So: Visit joebiden.com/call, sign up for a Sunrise Movement phonebank, check out your local Indivisible chapter or look up any activist organization—most likely they're also out there making calls. Let's win this thing.
Does your voter plan include voting by mail or voting absentee? 👏 Learn how to track your ballot in your state to… https://t.co/q0MMj35oKF— Rock the Vote (@Rock the Vote)1603910705.0
And it could mean one of the candidates ends up in jail.
Important Editor's Note:
What follows is an interview with a person who purports to "see" what others cannot - the paranormal truth that crosses the divide between mind and matter, between past and present and future things. We will call this person "L." She asked that we keep her identity secret, since she is actively working on multiple criminal investigations in the heartland of our country, many of which are "cold cases" that were abandoned as "unsolvable" before her involvement.
We at Trueself did our homework, and it's worth noting that L checks out - she is a trusted ally to our nation's most sophisticated forensic crime fighters. She doesn't earn a living from her so-called 'gift' (she has a real-life job) but instead tries to 'utilize her gift for good.' For clarity: We disclaim any comments of L that appear in this interview, but we do assert that the 'visions' described within this interview with L are true.
That said, we believe that her track record for helping our nation's top law enforcement officials solve cold cases means that this transcribed interview about her empath visions as recounted in this transcribed interview are worthy of publication.
Trueself: We understand that you watched the Trump-Biden debate tonight and felt compelled to reach out to a senior member of our editorial staff about a "vision" you had about Trump. Is that right?
L: Well, yes. I watched the debate, but I could not focus on the TV noise because I felt something coming through me.
Trueself: What do you mean - 'coming through [you]'?
L: [laughs nervously] Well, this is where it gets weird. And I just want to say that I am not only not political. I am anti-political. I don't consume news and have no love or hate for any politician. That stuff breaks my brain. The lies and posturing, the narcissism and lack of spirituality led me to ditch media and all things political at a very young age.
Trueself: I'm confused. If you shun media and politics, how did you get this 'vision' of yours?
L: That's the funny thing. My friend - the person on your staff who connected me with you - roped me into a Covid lockdown soire to watch last night's debate. I did so reluctantly, knowing that the mindless banter would make me drink too much to quiet my head. But, sure enough, the voices came. I needed to listen.
Trueself: At what point during the debate did that happen?
L: This is tough for me to say... [PAUSES, EMOTIONAL] ....I don't want to talk badly about anyone. And I don't have a real opinion on anything political. But the quickening happened. I couldn't help it while I watched the debate. It might have been the first time Chris Wallace challenged Trump and got run over by his interruptions... or the first time Biden looked like he might not remember the names of his grandkids. I just started seeing things... lol. I got worried and afraid, even. I worried about what might happen to us.
Trueself: Hang on... Seeing things? What do you mean?
L: I saw a collage of our national history strobe through my brain. I saw Lincoln and Kennedy and John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald. I saw Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. I saw James Baldwin and Bob Marley. I saw Frederick Douglas and Toni Morrison and James Joyce. Then... I saw President Trump in an orange jumpsuit. I saw him being taken away in shackles. Could have been a signal of something different, but I do know that it's true. Something true that will happen related to what I saw.
Trueself: Wait. I need to ask - you're saying the President of the United States will be carted off to jail?
L: Yes, that will happen.
Trueself: You really believe that is possible or you KNOW that it WILL happen?
L: It will happen, I believe.
Trueself: Err... okay. How does that make you feel?
L: Well... it makes me feel at peace, I guess. It will make us better. It will make America great again... [laughs]
It was a dumpster fire inside a train wreck.
The first presidential debate of the 2020 election cycle took place last night, September 29th.
While we've known for a long time that Trump doesn't think treating others with basic respect is a necessity, that fact has never been clearer than last night when he spent 90 minutes interrupting and insulting both opponent Joe Biden and moderator Chris Wallace. Not only was the majority of the debate just the three men talking over each other; when Trump did actually form a complete sentence, he mostly spouted blatant lies and falsehoods—not to mention that he flat-out refused to condemn white supremacy.
In fact, if you want to see just how many times both men exaggerated, twisted, or just straight up denied the truth, check out Politifacts 100% accurate fact check of the debate. It will quickly become clear that Trump almost exclusively lied while on the debate stage.
Still, facts have become a negligible facet of democracy under the Trump administration, so it's no surprise that Trump supporters still feel certain that their president's truly childish behavior in the debate was not only acceptable but praiseworthy. To be honest, it's difficult to fathom that there are many truly undecided voters at this point. You're either against the rise of fascism, white supremacy, misogyny, and misinformation, or you're voting for Trump and have decided those things are fine with you. In the most polarizing political moment perhaps in the history of America, the undecided voter is rare (and probably not paying attention).
So if most people are already certain about who they're voting for, why did anyone watch the debate? Let's be honest with ourselves: we watched because we knew it would be such a disaster it would be entertaining, we watched as a form of passive self-flagellation, and most of all we watched so we could keep up with the Twitter discourse. The only bright spot in the darkness of 2020 is the endlessly hilarious Twitter takes that both encompass the chaos of the moment and remind us not to take anything too seriously.
Here are our favorite Tweets about the first 2020 presidential debate, divided by category.
Watching the debate as a form of self punishment
Self care is easier said than done, and as the months of social isolation wear on, we're all getting more and more prone to doom-scrolling on social media, reading opinions that we know will make us angry, and engaging in Facebook comment battles with our weird great uncle who might be an actual Neo-Nazi now. For many of us, watching the debate was just an extension of this toxic behavior.
https://t.co/a4yomieMva— Michael Tannenbaum (@Michael Tannenbaum)1601429657.0
We protected our mental health by not watching this debate.— Black Women Radicals (@Black Women Radicals)1601433502.0
It’s ok to admit that we’re watching the debate because it’s basically self harm— 🥴 (@🥴)1601427190.0
Just marveling at how much three men can talk over each other
The amount of times Trump interrupted either the moderator or Joe Biden were truly countless, and ultimately forced Biden and Wallace to interrupt him and each other to get a word in edgewise. What resulted had a similar energy to a Kindergarten classroom if all the students were on amphetamines.
lol did trump’s kindergarten teacher never teach him to wait his turn to talk— hannah 🧃 doing school (@hannah 🧃 doing school)1601428437.0
This debate makes Uncut Gems feel like a Bob Ross episode by comparison— Evan Rytlewski (@Evan Rytlewski)1601429390.0
Mocking and/or pitying Chris Wallace
Poor Chris Wallace had the toughest job of the night. He had to try to maintain some semblance of control while asking important questions and then ensuring that the American people could actually hear the answers to the questions. It ultimately proved to be an impossible task, and America was divided on whether or not he could have done better.
Someone start a GoFundme for Chris Wallace’s bar tab— Dominic Ciaverella (@Dominic Ciaverella)1601431556.0
Chris Wallace is struggling, trying to seem like a jovial hale fellow well met., while being mugged.— ANNE LAMOTT (@ANNE LAMOTT)1601430166.0
Feeling bad for Hillary and despising the amount of toxic masculinity on display
If I wanted to watch three out-of-touch old white men yell at each other, I would have just waited for my family Thanksgiving in Texas.
The silver lining of this debate is that now we have a video to show people when they ask what "toxic masculinity" is— Emily Atkin (@Emily Atkin)1601429114.0
Thanks, I’m fine. But everyone better vote. https://t.co/fkuQ042HvM— Hillary Clinton (@Hillary Clinton)1601434432.0
Men are too emotional to be president.— Jill Filipovic (@Jill Filipovic)1601433085.0
From the moment Joe Biden said "Would you just shut up, man," many started thinking about the double standards for men and women in power.
Just straight up insults
It's not about looks, but these are pretty funny.
trump looks like a tupperware container after you had spaghetti in it— ꧁Madimoiselle꧂ (@꧁Madimoiselle꧂)1601430530.0
Biden: It's hard to get any word in with this clown Trump covered in orange makeup: Hey hey let me just tell you— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn Torabi)1601439951.0
Trump refusing to condemn white supremacy
wallace: condemn white supremacy biden: yeah say it the president: https://t.co/pJk5UGiXeK— ziwe (@ziwe)1601433546.0
12-hours later and Trump still hasn’t said he misspoke about white supremacy and the Proud Boys gang.— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@Rex Chapman🏇🏼)1601481848.0
he said "how do you feel about black people" trump said "i love the police"— giabuchi lastrassi (@giabuchi lastrassi)1601431190.0
There were no winners and the losers were the American people
While we think Biden did his best to retain some level of calm under the circumstances, there is no question that the entire debate was a disaster that provided almost no concrete information.
trump: i support bad things. my opponent supports good things biden: shut up, man. i do not— Shaun (@Shaun)1601435217.0
Trump: BABHAHAEJRNTKIDDUEHEHEHEJASJDBBDNRIRIF Biden: KANDJFFISUWBEJTKGUBWBSKAISHSBDBDBDBEH— Natalie (@Natalie)1601428783.0
this debate https://t.co/jjYUNagilZ— Hannah Jewell (@Hannah Jewell)1601430326.0
While I feel that I could summon the rage to creatively disembowel Trump, Joe Biden only makes me angry enough to w… https://t.co/CNwxsZKBdr— Brooke Ivey Johnson (@Brooke Ivey Johnson)1601435192.0
Disgustingly, Trump repeatedly went after Biden's family, insulting his son Hunter repeatedly and (falsely) claiming he had received money from Russia and been dishonorably discharged. Trump then later made it very clear that he is prepared to deny the election results should he lose.
Politics aside, if any other American were on national TV bum-rushing a parent as they talked about a vet son havin… https://t.co/xpIEa1n12v— Jeffrey Wright (@Jeffrey Wright)1601439165.0
For those who hadn’t been listening for the past 4 years, Trump just told you that he ain't leaving and that he is… https://t.co/dd0XUILF9y— Ava DuVernay (@Ava DuVernay)1601435250.0
Joe Biden spent the final moments of the debate urging Americans to vote. Donald Trump spent the final moments of t… https://t.co/Altz1izDX1— Elizabeth Warren (@Elizabeth Warren)1601433820.0