Perhaps last week’s revelation that Il Trumpe was going to let Democratic states die from COVID-19 for electoral gain is just another casualty of the Trumpian strategy of flooding the zone with shit (this was sort-of confirmed by a NY Times reporter, who inexplicably didn’t see this as newsworthy). Maybe it’s just so hard to keep up with the torrent of horror during Trump’s misrule that leaving tens of millions of Americans to die because they belong to a different political party doesn’t register.
But I think David Atkins makes a good point–we don’t really have a way to describe the evil that position entails (boldface mine):
If this is true–and there is very little reason to doubt its veracity, despite the White House press secretary’s denials–it would constitute perhaps the greatest crime against humanity of any president in American history. Andrew Jackson’s Trail of Tears was more deliberately vicious and murderous; George W. Bush’s immoral war of choice in Iraq killed more people overall.
But no American president has ever betrayed his oath of office more profoundly than in deliberately allowing the deaths of more than 150,000 of his own fellow citizens and counting for partisan political gain.
We even lack the vocabulary to describe it. “Gross negligence” doesn’t reach the level of the crime. “Murder” is lurid, but frankly not comprehensive enough in scope to describe the death of 150,000. “Treason” comes to mind when considering that the President of the United States knowingly allowed 150,000 Americans to die because they were mostly his political opponents–but despite his Russia entanglements, there is no direct evidence he did so on behalf of a foreign power.
But there’s another option: “genocide.” The known racial bias of the deaths overlaps with the political bias–black and brown Americans tend to be Democrats and live in Democratic areas, and are disproportionately falling victim to the virus–which in turn would make “genocide” the most compelling way to describe what Trump and Kushner have done.
Genocide. Yes, it sounds preposterous. It sounds like the hyperbole of the deeply unserious. But what else can you call it? No word is perfect, but the crime must have a name that fits the enormous scope of its evil. It must describe what actually happened. And what happened is that the president and his son-in-law deliberately allowed 150,000 (and counting) Americans to die of a pandemic, because it would mostly kill off their political opponents. Because it would kill off mostly poor people of color. Because they thought they could gain an upper hand by blaming opposing governors. But they thought it would advantage them politically….
When the founders named “high crimes and misdemeanors” as the basis for impeaching a president, they chose the phrase because it was deliberately vague: it would be impossible to write a law to cover every possible abuse of power by a deranged executive. They expected the Congress to respect its own authority and the health of the country enough to know when a relevant “high crime” or “misdemeanor” had taken place…
This is a crime against humanity. A crime so profound we may not have a law to cover it. A crime with international implications, one so vast it may require an international court.
One problem with most decent people is that they are decent. They simply can’t imagine how someone could be so monstrous, even when the plan is clearly in sight. That said, there won’t be any tribunal for Trump et alia: in 21st century America, accountability does not exist, unless sternly-worded letters by Democrats count. If it did, Trump and his entire cabinet, out of shame, would have already committed ritual self-disembowelment on the White House lawn for their failure.
Unfortunately, the best we can hope for is that he loses in 2020.