Last night Donald Trump suddenly announced on Twitter, out of nowhere, that he’s temporarily banning all immigration to the United States by executive order, citing the coronavirus pandemic. Trump provided no logical justification for his move, and no legal justification for why his order should hold up in court. So what’s he doing?
This move is a logical failure on so many levels, it’s difficult to know where to start. The United States has the most out-of-control coronavirus outbreak in the world, so if anything it should be other countries trying to keep Americans out. Even if there is a good coronavirus-based reason to try to keep people from entering the U.S., why only target immigrants and not, say, international tourists? They’re just as likely to bring the virus with them.
Further, this doesn’t feel like something that’s going to hold up in court, even on a temporary basis while the case plays out. So why even issue the order? That may be the whole point. Even if this goes nowhere in practice, Donald Trump can now brag to his racist base that he ordered an end to immigration. Even if the order doesn’t end up blocking a single immigrant from entering the country, reality doesn’t matter to his cult members.
Of course Donald Trump still mistakenly thinks that pandering to his own base is somehow going to help his bleak reelection odds. Trump has spent three years focusing solely on his existing fans instead of trying to broaden his support and win over new people, which is why his approval rating is still anemic. For Trump, it’s very rarely about strategy, and nearly always about malignant narcissism.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report