A common popular fallacy is that trends, downward and upward, continue forever. For example, Donald Trump’s decreasing popularity, beginning in the early days of his administration, was seen by many as a trend that could be counted on and therefore predicted. It was only a matter of time, early pundits averred, before he reached the thirty or even twenty percentiles in popular support, say. Extrapolating downward at the then current velocity, it became an easy matter to determine when he would reach that unpopularity inflection point at which Republicans — the ones that counted anyway — would abandon him. We were so young back then.
This doesn’t mean that all trends bottom out or plateau or even reverse, of course. Global warming is a trend that will continue to get worse at an inexorable rate equivalent to our thickheaded propensity for ignoring it. If you have an empty hundred gallon barrel that you add a gallon of water to every day it will be filled to the brim in one hundred days. From day 101 onward it will overflow. Global warming is a trend that is just that simple to explain and understand— and predict. The only thing we can’t predict is just how bad it will make the planet along the way. That’s only because we are slow at learning about the new unforeseen global warming horrors, horrors that we hadn’t anticipated.
And yet while we, as concerned Americans, relied to our detriment so heavily on a descending Trump, many of us ignored the increasing global warming peril all around us. Many insisted that, bad as it was, there was nothing we could do about it.
Then along came coronavirus and, suddenly, miraculously, we found a way. Cruise ships stopped sailing, airliners cut significantly back on flights, cars stopped driving so much, people found a way to stay home, or at least, closer to home. Coronavirus has proven, if nothing else, that we can respond and we can respond rapidly to the dire exigencies of climate change with effective remedies.
Coronavirus has proven that we can act as a unified global body when the inducements are obvious. Even slug-witted Republicans are finally starting to come around. Coronavirus has proven that we can tackle global warming as a species. We should be thankful that we are learning this lesson at the low price of the potential death of four percent of our population. It could have been far worse. Coronavirus may yet save us from global warming. It may also save us from Donald Trump.
Not by killing him off, though that could happen too. But by finally giving Trump the bad ratings we have been hoping for. Donald Trump has managed to blow it so badly on the world stage with his bungling of the coronavirus pandemic that I’m almost willing to give him credit for talent. When it comes to getting things wrong, Donald Trump may just be a world class fuck up.
If ever there was an opportunity to get it right, Trump managed to get it wrong in every conceivable way. From his endless self-congratulations, to his abrogation of responsibility for dismantling the pandemic response team in 2018, to his blaming Obama for his (Trump’s) lack of coronavirus preparedness, to his lack of empathy for afflicted Americans, to his overabundance of concern for the travel industry (including hotels, let us not forget about the poor hotels!), to his parade of corporate “heroes” at his Rose Garden declaration of a state of emergency, Trump couldn’t have blown it more if he’d had production help from Steven Spielberg.
While people we know start dying, Republicans and Democrats alike, Trump is still going to insist on what a great job he’s doing. He can’t not brag. He just can’t. He can’t say one scripted noble thing without tooting his own horn at least five times and without insulting or blaming someone else. He really is that bad, and it will almost certainly mean the end of his presidency.
Next year we will begin a new administration, conceived in fear, tempered by tribulation and adversity, prepared at long last to face the challenges ahead, and full of the promise and hope of concern for all Americans, old and young, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican. That will be a trend worth seeing, and I hope it’s an upward one that never ends.