Trump and COVID-19: A Campaign of Fear

Following the shameful presidential debate that took place on September 29, Donald Trump has once again hoarded the world’s attention by confirming that both he and his wife have tested positive for COVID-19.

Many have regarded this as a lie, assuming that he wants to avoid the embarrassment of attending the remaining presidential debates. Others believe that he plans on “recovering” with a new vaccine that he will be able to use as part of his political campaign. There is also a rumour that he wants to use this as a distraction for his tax evasion scandal.

However, conspiracy theories aside, it is clear that having to isolate himself will have a harsh effect on his path towards re-election. Having to quarantine means that he will not be able to go ahead with any scheduled rallies or campaigns he had planned. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, he has insisted on carrying out live performances for his campaign. Trump is firmly dependent on live rallies, where he expresses himself in a strong and decisive way, almost always with a highly disrespectful attitude. Led by the insults both him and his red-capped roaring crowd clamour in unison, POTUS is able to do without any kind of coherent speech. Now that this lamentable way of doing politics is not available for him, it is clear that he will need to find a new strategy if he wants to pull through.

If there is one word to accurately describe Donald Trump’s political performance, that word is “clumsy”. He has been constantly juggling between the two strategies that keep his campaign together: inciting fear and spreading lies. He is now left with the sole option of continuing with his merciless incitation of distress. As lying online makes it much easier for people to quickly and effectively fact-check his statements, the falseness of his claims should be made viral incredibly fast. Without any live crowds thoughtlessly endorsing some of the cruelest lies he has ever said, Trump has been left without his strongest weapon regarding his presidential campaign.

An example of POTUS purposefully inciting fear is how he referred to incidents in Portland. In complete dismissal of the local governor, he said that the protests – which he assures are run by Democrats and the radical left – are “ripping down that city” and “looting it”. This was just a poor excuse for him to send federal troops to the area; methods which have been described by the Mayors of Portland, New York City, Chicago, and other major cities as “tactics we expect from authoritarian regimes – not our democracy”.

Another example of this unscrupulous strategy is one of Trump’s latest ads, which aims directly at Biden on his policies on police funding. The ad shows a scene in which someone breaks into an elderly woman’s home and, when she calls the police, receives no response from 911. By the end of the video, we can read “You won’t be safe in Biden’s America”. Trump intends to appear as some kind of magical saviour, the only person able to ensure safety for the American people.

The thing is, are Americans safe now? Right here is where his lying tactics come into play. The best and biggest example of him lying for his own benefit is his brutal belittling of COVID-19. With 200.000+ dead in his country, he still refuses to admit the seriousness of the issue.

The paradox here is that he claims his efforts towards keeping coronavirus information away from the American public are done because he does not want to scare them, yet an enormous part of his campaign is directed towards inciting fear. He has created a narrative with which he intends to make people fear a world which has been carefully crafted for his benefit; a complete distortion of reality which he hopes Americans will accept with not much resistance.

Without his live rallies, Trump has been left severely handicapped. His fear-led campaign, although effective, is in no way sufficient to ensure a favourable election.

Words by Valentina Ferraro

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