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In This Cruel Summer, the COVID-Era Election Looms

This week, democracy-ish dissects the state of the 2020 race with fewer than 100 days to go until the election.

  • Biden is ahead in key swing states, but this isn’t your average election year.

  • The former VP seems to be leaning back so Trump has plenty of room to fumble. Is that the best tactic in this high-stakes race?

  • We’re just days away from Biden’s big announcement. Who should he choose as his running mate? Who will he pick?

Although the latest polls suggest Trump is losing bigly, we live in unprecedented times. The president’s secret police are still terrorizing his detractors in multiple cities. The U.S. remains the epicenter of a global pandemic.

But Republicans continue to politicize the public health measures that could save lives, like masks and social distancing. They’re clamoring to reopen schools.

Even if polling is correct and Biden has an eight-to-10 point edge over Trump among likely voters, we’re still on pins and needles.

But this year’s race –– both for the White House and control of Congress –– seems to be moving in slow motion, says Toure.

Candidates “can't campaign in any real functional way like we're used to,” he explains. “It’s late July. There should be constant beehives of media around these people all the time. Thousands cheering at their stump speeches. We have none of that.”

It’s arguably the strangest election year in American history, with the highest stakes. But is Biden up to the challenge? And who will he pick for VP?

Let the speculating, and the venting, begin.

Episode Highlights –– The Shitshow Continues

Are Biden’s numbers juiced by the ‘rona?

If there wasn’t a pandemic, Danielle asks: Would Biden’s numbers be what they are?

“We can rattle off all the ways in which Trump has fucked America over the past three-and-a-half years. But aside from COVID being a complete and total disaster, with 150,000 Americans dead ... I don't know.”

Toure thinks Trump’s dismal pandemic response reflects “at least three to five points” in favor of Biden –– who has, he argues, chosen to “lean out of the way” and let the president make a fool of himself.

“Trump has to change the trajectory. Biden does not,” he adds.

Danielle agrees: “Right now, Biden is doing what Nancy Pelosi did around impeachment, which I couldn’t stand –– we'll just wait for him to impeach himself.”

Blue lies matter

This week, we’re seeing New York look a lot like Portland, with one disturbing new wrinkle.

“A gang –– and I use that word on purpose –– of plainclothes cops pull up in an unmarked van, tackle and kidnap an 18-year-old transwoman named Nikki Stone and speed off,” says Toure. “We knew that Trump would try to replicate what he did in Portland. But this wasn’t ‘federal police.’ This was the NYPD.”

New York’s “finest” claim Stone was wanted for the crime of putting stickers over police cameras.

“But we can't believe anything the police say,” Toure notes. “Two weeks ago we were told there was a national epidemic of gun violence across the country –– that homicides suddenly spiked. We’ve heard nothing more about it.”

If there was a measurable uptick of crime, the media would surely cover it. “But it went away, because the initial report was bullshit,” he adds. “The police use information like that to manipulate us.”

Case in point: NYPD's Twitter account claims rocks and bottles were thrown at them during the arrest. “We all saw the video,” says Toure. “That's just a straight-up lie to try to gain sympathy for the police.”

‘More footage’ = more bullsh*t

Police have long abused their power and justified it in the media or courts of law. They’ve attempted to obscure the facts surrounding high-profile cases like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Or Sandra Bland, who was found dead in her jail cell after she was arrested in a traffic stop. Police claimed she hung herself –– which was outrageously suspicious at the time. But when another Black citizen (also detained after a traffic stop) was found hanging in the same jail, Bland’s death looks criminal.

“The media should be critical of the things police say. They are not honest, good-faith brokers of information about themselves,” says Toure.

“The media always says that we have to wait for more footage –– to believe our eyes, not the bullshit they're trying to spread over them,” Danielle adds.

Trumpy needs Talkspace

How, exactly, have we gotten here?

Toure thinks that the “pathological weakness, snowflake-ness, fear and victimhood of Trump permeates everything he does.”

He points to the recent presser in which Trump claimed that he agrees with Anthony Fauci on most things, but while Fauci's poll numbers are high, Trump’s are below 50%. The Commander-in-Chief blames that statistic on his “personality,” not his performance: Nobody likes me.

“Because nobody does like him,” Danielle notes.

That’s not exactly correct –– 35% of the country still supports the Orange Menace.

Toure sees Trump “obsessing over whether or not people like him,” despite the “unimaginable privilege one could possibly have.”

Even so, the clown from Queens has “failed upwards over and over and over again … propelled out of his sixth bankruptcy into the presidency,” Toure adds. “I don't understand the victimhood.”

We should, says Danielle.

“Mary Trump told us. It stems from his fucking daddy issues. Nicolle Wallace said recently: Because this motherfucker didn't go to therapy and get the treatment that he needed, we all have to suffer because of it.

AOC vs. Yoho

Amidst the current crisis, Congressman Ted Yoho’s verbal attack against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez engendered outrage online but basically no reaction from Republicans.

“Of course not,” Danielle says. “They got behind a man who wants to grab women by the pussy.”

Toure concurs: “Either they're silent, or they're like, I didn't see that speech –– the one everybody else saw.”

He sees the ‘Pubs inability to call out incompetence, racism and sexism –– “what should be unacceptable behavior with nothing to do with ideology and party –– as “protecting what old cis, straight white men have, and have had.”

They’re threatened, Toure argues, “by the rise of a young Brown woman who is smart, outspoken and challenging traditional structures.”

AOC points out that poverty is the leading driver of crime –– something that isn’t easily solved with policing. Likewise, activist Bree Newsome Bass

tweeted this week:

“I would add: If we guarantee a job for everybody who wants one, let’s see … if that would drive crime down faster than putting more cops in the street,” says Toure.

Republicans’ ‘scarcity’ mindset

What else could make a difference in the places Trump and his cronies see as “infested” with crime?

Danielle suggests that “we’d create different policies if we saw … Black and Brown people as assets –– and I don't mean the way that slaves were. If we invest in their communities and in their lives, look at what blossoms.”

In order to do that, we have to reject the Republican worldview of scarcity, she argues. They believe that there is never enough –– so it’s necessary to get theirs first and foremost. Everyone else can fight for the scraps.

The election of Barack Obama (and Hillary Clinton’s loss) ushered in a “tidal wave of women and Black and Brown people, in contrast to their worldview,” says Danielle. “As we begin to level the playing field and break down the obvious obstacles to success for marginalized communities, white men are like, this isn't fair.”

That’s because they’ve never had to compete, she explains. As women and people of color rise to levels of power, many white men haven’t kept up.

They think they need to “flatten everyone else out to remain on top,” Toure adds. “That's why they care about the 'economy' and vote for Trump.”

The Babe Ruth paradox

“White people see race as a zero-sum game they’re losing,” says Toure.

But they’re ignoring how their privilege, and their lives, depend on the privations of Black Americans.

“White people have benefited from that oppression, he points out. “I see it very clearly in sports. Babe Ruth was the fucking man, but I don't think he would have in the Negro Leagues. There were no Black players in baseball when he was crushing it. If he had to compete with real pitchers and real players, it would have been a lot different.”

Toure thinks that’s an analogy for America overall. The field is tilted in favor of those who built it. But we’re all playing on it.

Veepstakes showdown

We are days away from the rollout of Biden’s vice-presidential pick. Based on the shortlist and the state of the race, Danielle thinks his choice is a tossup between Kamala Harris and Val Demings. She thinks Susan Rice –– another top contender –– ”needs too much of an introduction to people who aren’t policy wonks.”

Toure balks at the idea of Demings as veep.

“I would be stark raving mad if a 25-year cop, former police chief, wife of a former police chief, became the fucking vice presidential nominee,” “I'd be like, have you listened to nothing we were talking about in the year of BLM? You cannot put the fucking po-po on the frickin’ ticket. I would be so freaking furious.”

Danielle disagrees. She was impressed with how Demings handled herself as an impeachment manager. And a Biden-Demings ticket would give her hope that “the fucking crimes of this administration would not be swept under the rug, that they would actually be held accountable, It would take all of the air out of the Republicans’ mouths about law and order.”

Vote now, ‘undo the fuckery’ later

Toure thinks that argument allows Republicans to shape the narrative.

“You're moving the Overton Window over to their side. We are over here on the left with a deep, meaningful and honest critique of the police. We don't need to elevate a cop in 2020 to the second biggest job in the land.”

Although he thinks Harris would do a great job, he’s skeptical that she’s the best choice right now: “I'm concerned about what in her prosecutorial background could be frightening to Black and white voters.”

“More frightening than Storm Trumpers invading cities?” Danielle asks.

“Obviously,” Toure replies. “But I don't want us to make a decision based on not worse than Trump.” He thinks we need to demand more of Biden now, during the race, to push him to the left.

“We can argue for better policies on January 22, 2021 … when Donald Trump is as far away from the people's house as possible,” Danielle argues. “Then we can begin to have a really deep argument about what’s necessary to undo his fuckery.”

A trespasser at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

With just about three months to go, Toure is optimistic that Biden will win. But Danielle points out that Barr and Trump are “using every voter suppression tactic that they can,” and that the president is already telling us he won’t accept the results of the election.

Toure recently talked with Lawrence O'Donnell about this, asking: What if Trump refuses to leave?

O’Donnell told him there’s no mechanism by which Trump has to agree to leave. But at 12:01 p.m. on Inauguration Day, he becomes a trespasser.

“The secret service will escort him out, forcefully or not,” Toure explains. And although literally anything could happen between now and November 3, he thinks “we are headed to the salvation that we need.”

Is it island time yet?

If salvation doesn’t come, Danielle proposes doing democracy-ish via satellite from “some fucking-where” –– anywhere but here. Canada, perhaps?

“I want to be part of the underground resistance, but if we were forced out, I'm not going to cold-ass Canada,” Toure says. “I'm going to Jamaica. At least we’d get to enjoy ourselves in exile.”

Danielle isn’t sure expatration is so easy, but she’s Jamaican so perhaps she’d get in.

“They can't not take you,” Toure says. “And I know all the Bob Marley lyrics.”

“That's not part of this citizenship test, but okay,” Danielle responds. “But all right, we can go there. Democracy-ish, Jamaica edition.”

In the meantime, we’ll be back next week with a fresh drop of democracy-ish, American edition. You know, if there’s still a country. Pray about it.

Get your weekly rundown of the presidential election from a Black progressive point of view on democracy-ish. Consider Danielle Moodie and Toure as your tour guides, flight attendants and/or therapists as we move through this dumpster fire of an election cycle — together!

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