My Wish for Trump
tags: Donald Trump,COVID-19
Steve Hochstadt is a writer and an emeritus professor of history at Illinois College.
Trump has COVID. What do I wish for him?
That question provokes a variety of verbal contortions. Official Democrats wish him and Melania well. A conservative, Ross Douthat, plays defense, blowing up a bit of evidence into an assumption that any other President would have made the same early mistakes. More liberal Nicholas Kristof wants to abstain from offense, saying the main thing to do now is to avoid snark. David Barash at Daily Kos is refreshingly brutal. He won’t wish Trump well, and he’s right in everything he says. I’m sure there will be many more efforts to publicly acknowledge the emotional, moral, and political battle between our better and worse angels.
We have been schooled to believe we should always wish the best to everyone, even to a man who epitomizes hate toward one’s opponents. When Hillary had the flu, Trump mocked her. Our President in a time of plague is the greatest source of public misinformation about it, says Cornell University researchers, after studying 38 million articles about the pandemic. If anyone deserved to get coronavirus, it’s Donald Trump. But let’s still play nice.
I won’t play nice, but I don’t want Trump to die, or even become deathly ill. That would not just be bad for him, but bad for my wishes for our national future. I want Trump to get well, to live many years beyond the end of his Presidency.
The last thing we need is for the Republicans to be able to validate his pose as the ultimate victim, so they can transform Trump into a martyr, even if it is to his own stupidity.
I am gleeful at the prospect of dozens of tell-some books by those who were present for Trump’s outrageous behavior, who heard what he said. Publishers will dangle millions of dollars in front of people who have thus far demonstrated little spine or conscience. Some of what they say will stick to his image like obscene Post-Its.
I look forward to countless court cases around Trump, a later life of defending himself for his whole life thus far. Eventually the accumulation of evidence and judgments will prove to any reasonable person that he was and is a crook, a fraud, a failure in everything but inherited privilege. I recognize how many unreasonable people there are in America, who could never be convinced of any truth about the object of their idolatry. Their fantasies will disappear into the dustbin of history, then reappear in some other guise as another generation of deluded souls gets taken in by the latest con. But some of the Americans who were duped by the greatest con man of our lives will eventually realize that they had no idea what was really going on. The history books will paint a damning portrait of Trump.
I look forward to the Republican Party explaining how it became Trump’s slave and where it is going now. The Never Again Trumpers still have a lot of squirming to do about their role in creating such low-hanging fruit for their most dangerous adherents. We all need to confront our participation in systemic racism, but most of all the systematically racist Republican Party. That could bring us a little closer to a just society.
That could only happen if the ultimately privileged Mr. Trump has some mild case of this flu, and recovers quickly enough to continue his reign of terror on the country of his birth for just a few more months. Then I look forward to the crash.
I want Trump to get better, but I don’t wish him well.
October 6, 2020
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