In the Eye of the Storm

As November 3, the date of the United States elections approaches, the anxiety level of the country has increased to a high point, except for President Donald Trump and his acolytes, who trust in the re-election of their leader. This, despite the fact that current polls predict Joe Biden the winner by almost 10 points.

Is it possible that they know something that the rest of the world does not know, or is it that they hope to use some illicit subterfuge to win this election, handing Trump the presidency? The extent of the influence Russia used to achieve this result in the past election is unknown, but Russia’s past and present election meddling has been confirmed by the US intelligence agencies.

Trump is smart, but he has a perverse intelligence, the result of his narcissism with sociopathic traits. Anyone who thinks this is an exaggeration should read the book written by Mary Trump, his niece and a clinical psychologist, who makes a stark analysis of her uncle, whom she considers a fraud and a huge danger to the country and the world.

Her assessment is born, in part, by Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, which she calls a “mass murder”. Trump’s ignorance, his refutation of the opinion of his own scientific advisers, and dishonest and irresponsible actions have resulted in more than 8.35 million cases of COVID-19 and over 224,000 deaths to date in the U.S.

From the beginning, the Trump administration has systematically ignored the basic public health tenets for the control of the pandemic. Even more worrisome, it hasn’t even provided the population with the basic weapons to combat it until late in the course of the pandemic.

How is it possible that it took several months for the most powerful country in the world to provide front line workers and the rest of the population with basic personal protective equipment? How can the administration justify not having enough masks (one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the epidemic) for all to be protected? And not enough ventilators for those infected to be properly treated? And for the president to be sending the message through his personal behavior that masks are not important? And the ultimate sin, promoting unproven and quaky cures for the infection?

In a dismissive tone Trump mocked Biden during the first debate, “You have the biggest mask I have ever seen”. Days later, Trump, his wife, and their son were infected with the coronavirus. Trump recovered quickly due to the extraordinary care he received as head of state, having been treated with drugs that ordinary citizens do not have access to.

If the recommendations of infectious disease experts had been followed, the death rate could have been tens of thousands lower. They were not. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s most prestigious infectious disease expert – and a member of the commission appointed by the White House to combat the pandemic – was recently described by Trump as a “disaster” and the other components like “idiots”.

Instead, the president has chosen to listen to the advice of a radiologist on how to address the pandemic, something similar to asking a butcher to perform a brain operation. In the meantime, the pandemic continues its unstoppable advance, with 38 states showing alarming numbers of infected people. On October 24, over 82.000 people were infected with the virus in the U.S.

All this sets up an extremely complicated electoral landscape, where it is impossible to predict the final result, given the actions that Trump and his followers have planned. Trump has sent clear messages to his supporters to monitor polling places and, when possible, pressure voters, while firearms sales have seen a significant increase in recent weeks. Additionally, there is widespread fear that Republicans will create an atmosphere of chaos that will allow Trump to discredit the election results.

The United States, and the world, are at a critical moment. If Trump is re-elected, this will lead to a tightening of his policies, which have caused so much damage to the majority of the population. We can only hope that reason prevails, and that the stratagems that the Republican Party have planned to carry out to alter the result of the election are not enough for the triumph of its candidate. For his part, Donald Trump risks not only the presidency but, if the trials against him are effective, his own freedom.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”