With red meat con­spir­acy the­o­ries, Trump en­dan­gers his own vot­ers — and ev­ery­one else

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - S.E. CUPP @se­cupp S.E. Cupp is the host of “S.E. Cupp Un­fil­tered” on CNN.

If you’re a white su­prem­a­cist, racist, or just feel­ing in­se­cure about your sta­tus as a white man in Amer­ica, the pres­i­dent of the United States sure wants you to know he’s got your back.

Over the past few weeks, Pres­i­dent Trump has stoked racial di­vi­sions by mak­ing steady, clumsy and un­sub­tle over­tures to his white na­tion­al­ist sup­port­ers.

Most re­cently, he retweeted a video that showed a Trump sup­porter twice shout­ing “white power” at anti-racism pro­test­ers in Florida. His ad­vis­ers even­tu­ally com­pelled him to take down the im­politic retweet.

But he’s also tweeted videos of Black-on-white crime to dis­credit charges of sys­temic white racism; vig­or­ously de­fended Con­fed­er­ate gen­er­als; op­posed ef­forts to re­name mil­i­tary bases af­ter peo­ple who weren’t racist sup­port­ers of slav­ery; tear-gassed anti-racism peace­ful pro­test­ers, and used racial­ized lan­guage harken­ing back to the 1960s to threaten pro­test­ers.

Just a cur­sory pe­rusal of Trump’s ob­vi­ous out­reach to de­fend­ers of white cul­ture and power would lead any­one to be­lieve with­out a shadow of a doubt: He must re­ally, re­ally like these guys.

But just how much Trump cares about any­one be­sides him­self is a ques­tion that’s truly be­ing put to the test right now.

It started with COVID-19. Trump’s ut­ter in­com­pe­tence as a leader dur­ing a global pan­demic quickly turned a health cri­sis into a mouth-breath­ing cul­ture war, one he seemed all too pleased to in­dulge.

He turned his base against med­i­cal ex­perts, pushed their un­founded con­spir­acy the­o­ries, un­der­played the sever­ity of the virus and leaned into eco­nomic in­se­cu­ri­ties over re­main­ing vig­i­lant.

This has put his own vot­ers in dan­ger. The bizarre and trag­i­cally stupid anti-mask move­ment he cham­pi­ons by de­fi­antly and child­ishly refusing to wear one threat­ens the very lives of his own sup­port­ers and their com­mu­ni­ties.

His cam­paign was re­port­edly seen re­mov­ing thou­sands of so­ciald­is­tanc­ing signs from his Tulsa rally to pre­vent the op­tics of empty seats — un­suc­cess­fully, it turned out, as only 6,200 peo­ple showed up at the 19,200-seat venue. Eight of his own cam­paign staffers who at­tended have since tested pos­i­tive for the coro­n­avirus.

He’s moved most of the GOP con­ven­tion to a venue that would al­low larger crowds, though, who knows how long it will stay in Jack­sonville, Fla., af­ter that city man­dated mask-wear­ing at in­door and out­door events.

And he’s tried to block mail-in vot­ing — which would al­low more peo­ple to vote with­out risk­ing their lives at pub­lic polling places — to sup­press Demo­cratic turnout and help dis­credit the re­sults if loses.

His de­ter­mi­na­tion to give his sup­port­ers the orgy of anti-sci­ence, anti­ex­pert, anti-left, pro-white red meat they crave is en­dan­ger­ing them, and the rest of us. Six­teen states, from Ari­zona to Texas, Florida to Cal­i­for­nia, are pulling back their re­open­ing ef­forts as cases surge.

But even if Trump doesn’t re­ally care about his sup­port­ers’ lives, you’d think he’d care about get­ting re­elected for them, pre­sum­ably both to re­main in power and to de­liver on the prom­ises he made.

If he does, it isn’t show­ing. Trump is bleed­ing white sup­port.

He’s ahead of Joe Bi­den among white vot­ers by only 1 point, ac­cord­ing to re­cent polls. White women with col­lege de­grees sup­port Joe Bi­den by a whop­ping 39 points. Only 30% of whites un­der 45 sup­port Trump, ver­sus 52% who sup­port

Bi­den. Even among white se­niors, two-fifths of white vot­ers over 65 dis­ap­prove of his han­dling of the coro­n­avirus and race.

What­ever the pres­i­dent is do­ing isn’t work­ing, ex­cept with an ev­er­shrink­ing white, male, un­e­d­u­cated base that is still buy­ing what he’s sell­ing.

But does Trump truly even care about them any­more? With ev­ery anti-mask, so­cially crowded rally he holds for them, and with ev­ery white-power air kiss he throws to them, he’s both en­dan­ger­ing their lives and tank­ing his own re­elec­tion prospects.

So, ul­ti­mately, Trump’s ef­forts to de­light his voter base may just leave them with a coun­try still dy­ing from COVID-19, a se­cond wave of shut­downs, con­tin­ued un­em­ploy­ment, and a Demo­crat in the White House to boot. He sure has an odd way of show­ing he cares.

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