Mark and Patricia McCloskey never called the Central Reform Congregation of St. Louis asking to move a set of beehives before vandalizing them and leaving a note in 2013 threatening to sue if the wrecked hives were not removed promptly. The Synagogue had placed these beehives along its wall to produce honey for the upcoming Rosh Hashanah. “They are bullies”, Rabbi Susan Talve was quoted, “The fact that they are speaking at the convention is a win for bullies”.
On June 28, the pair appeared in front of their mansion brandishing a pistol and an assault rifle against a gaggle of unarmed protesters who were cutting through their private neighborhood. None of the protesters appear to be on their property, not even the 0.41 acres that the McCloskeys claimed squatters’ rights to, claiming its unlawful possession by them as “in fact, hostile, actual, open and notorious, exclusive, and continuous”. Openly hostile and notorious is a pretty good description of their long history of filing lawsuits, including a defamation lawsuit against his father when he was in memory-care, following up on a previous complaint about his father’s “niggardly attitude” for failing to give the son 5 acres of land the father had promised on a birthday card, but never made legal.
Last week at the Republican National Convention, the McCloskeys took the stage in President Trump’s pitch to suburban America. “Make no mistake”, they claimed, “no matter where you live, your family will not be safe”. “These radicals are not content with marching in the streets. They want to walk the Halls of Congress”. The couple echoed Trump’s own shrill against low-income housing invading neighborhoods, including a promise to rescind rules against housing discrimination so “all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle dream” can enjoy. McCloskey’s took it even further. Protesters are “not satisfied with spreading chaos and violence into our communities,” they said. “They want to abolish the suburbs altogether.”
As Trump as their witness, the McCloskeys were proud to appear armed to the teeth to “protect” against unarmed protesters – “criminals” – who were not even on his property and who maintained distance even if they were vocal. McCloskeys were pit-bulls in that image, protecting against parolees rampaging.
What they are actually doing is to deflect from what November’s referendum is all about. It is about numbers, and it is about lives. As Peggy Noonan put it in The Wall Street Journal “We are not a third-rate banana republic but at the moment we’re imitating one” – November’s election is about that too.
Since March, US lost about 27.5 million jobs, as of right now 29.22 million people are unemployed. US Federal Debt is to surpass GDP (in company of Italy, Greece and Japan) next year, last time it happened was in 1946. GDP shrank by -31.7% annualized in the most recent reading, by the next reading economy will have sunk -20% annualized even with the most generous estimate – a whopping USD 3.5 Trillion cumulative loss, the first time in such magnitude in history. Unemployment is still around levels last seen during The Great Depression. US GDP growth slowed during each of Trump’s first three years, even before Coronavirus; annualized growth over first 3 years of Trump regime ranked 7th amongst 11 of his predecessors. We were promised a “rocking” economy by July; “America’s economy is now roaring back to life like nobody has ever seen before,” Trump claimed talking about a V shaped comeback, “All of this incredible news is the result of historic actions my administration has taken.” Wonder which parallel universe he lives in. In our universe, lines at food pantries are miles long. Storefronts are getting boarded, even in places there is no protests or violence. As of writing of this piece, over 186,000 lives have been lost in the country due to Coronavirus, about a thousand more every single day. Schools are forced to close after a briefest reopen as outbreaks catch up. Businesses are shutting their doors, many for good – especially in entertainment, hospitality, retail, and soon, airlines.
The worst is yet to come, sorry Kimberly!!
It did not have to be that way. Trump administration deliberately sowed the chaos in the supply system that states are still reeling from months into the crisis. As early as in March, Trump ordered state Governors that for “respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment—try getting it yourselves.” What followed is a nationwide free-for-all, a race for the bottom (bidding the top dollar) for whatever was available. As for the Fed’s role, Jared Kushner, President’s son-in-law who was put in charge, claimed “It’s not our job to secure supplies for them” setting forth hunger games that still continue. All of this when the administration attempted to do something, and that was most often not the case. Oversimplification, even denial, has been the hallmark of US response to every single COVID-19 development. Some of them are just plain ridiculous – bleach bath into your veins anyone? – and some were headscratchers – continued insistence on efficacy of Hydroxychloroquine when multiple peer-reviewed studies failed to show any. Many cost lives as pushback from the top down on masks and lockdowns when called have waterfalled into the masses as a license to kill and be killed. As longer-term effects continue to hobble those who manage to survive, economic impact will be for years to come.
All of this can be traced to what the US Constitution was supposed to protect us against – a dynastic despot. Even if you are willing to look the other way against every single thing else, I cannot look past the cadre of yes-men (and yes-women). The highest Law Officer of the land, US Attorney General William Barr today offered “I do not know what the law in the particular state says” when asked to comment on Trump’s advice to his voters to vote twice, first by mail-in and then in person, in an effort to clog up the voting system. If the US Attorney General cannot definitively aver that voting twice is illegal under any circumstance, imagine where lesser mortals live in the pecking order. No wonder US Postmaster General is working overtime to put roadblocks on mail-in voting, even during pandemic, US Ambassador to UK is making personal inquiry into getting President’s property a favor across the pond. It trickles down too, US Treasury Secretary can take his wife on an eclipse viewing trip, US Secretary of State can order State Department personnel to do personal chores, US Administrator for Medicare and Medicaid services can claim reimbursement for loss of personal items… the list goes on.
Trump administration is an endless favor-bestowing and ego-boosting machine, at the service of the family and those who bow – only for how long they bow – to the dynasty. Those of us who grew up in India have seen the movie before – Gandhi family eulogized itself to the insignificance of the footnotes of today. As importantly, they brought down a very potent legacy of positive change for the country – the Congress Party, with all its other follies. In so doing, they denied India critical balance of power, so much so that even with the onslaught of the most severe recession in Indian history, there is no real alternative to the incumbent. Yes, the Gandhi dynasty brought India down, as much as they brought down the party they manipulated to no end. It would be a shame to see the end of Republican Party as a force in US politics. But it is the only desirable – and certain – outcome for a Trump Party. They are close, any voice against dynasty is muzzled by trolls, many by Trump himself, every cabinet meeting begins with ritualistic praise of the glory of the Trump, even civil rights icons are judged against attendance at the deification ceremony. It is difficult to say who’s giving ideas to who – Kim or Trump. Things can only go downhill from here.
Last week’s RNC was more than a preview of Pit Bulls & Parolees at the Polling Station. It is a preview of the future of the Party of Lincoln. No Rescue Center will be good for a redemption if we, as a country, fail to save it from interlopers. Yesterday was the time to do it, but we vacillated. Today is the last chance. Make Trump a one-term President who made the country learn from its failure. That will be worth more than anything the Don ever attempted in the People’s House.
[Partha Chakraborty is an Indian-born immigrant; a naturalized US Citizen since 2018. Educated in India and at Cornell University, Partha is currently an entrepreneur in water technologies, Blockchain and wealth management in the US and in India. The views expressed are his own].