My hatred for Donald Trump has always been visceral, a venom that flows through my bloodstream whenever he appears before me. I’ve harbored an intense aversion to the man since 2011, when he began to openly question President Obama’s place of birth and legitimacy because of his roots in Kenya. My father was born and raised in Nigeria before immigrating to the United States in 1975. I was born in Denver, Colorado on December 8, 1976, the first and only son of immigrants. Trump has and always will be an existential threat to people like me. On election night 2016, as the cocksure and tanned Trump strutted onto the stage as the newly elected president of the United States, I acted on my instincts, which was to grab both of my tennis shoes from beneath my bed and toss them at the television screen.
A few weeks after millions of hearts were broken by the election of Donald Trump, Dave Chappelle opened Saturday Night Live with a monologue. In it he urged disapproving Americans to give Donald Trump a chance. But I couldn’t convince myself to do it. For I was unable to watch Trump on the television set without feeling the urge to hurl the digested contents of my stomach in his direction.
Trump continued to dominate the airwaves in the ensuing year, comfortable and snug in the privilege that comes with being a wealthy, powerful, and less than mediocre white man in America. It’s probably what I detest the most about the man, a chronic underachiever who failed up to the highest echelon of power. After eight years of being governed by a brilliant, serious, educated, and talented black man who cared, Americans thought it would be wise to usher in a new era by electing a lying, raping, radical, racist, and reprobate conman. Trump’s lies are blatant and open enough for anyone to see through, and he is obviously ill-suited for the job he holds. And yet, forty to forty-five percent of the country continues to swear by him.
After watching Trump forcefully defend violent white nationalists before a shocked nation in the wake of the August 2017 riots in Charlottesville, where a young woman died and a young black man was savaged to within an inch of his life by multiple nationalist goons, I knew I’d had enough, and went on to make a pact with myself. I would no longer watch the man spew his filth on the television set. Every time a news program would air footage of Trump as he spoke, which was often, I would immediately grab the remote control to change the channel.
Even though I could not tolerate watching Trump bloviate on air, I kept on studying the news and politics of the day. I read thousands of articles detailing the atrocities Trump sanctioned and committed against refugees, women, and people of color, experienced helplessness and depression as Mitch McConnell, the republican leader of United States Senate, steamrolled unqualified Trump judges to lifetime appointments on the courts, and fretted over his rise in the polls in the wake of his sham of an impeachment trial.
The exoneration of the president Trump in the face of overwhelming evidence and the upcoming election was all that my sister and I could talk about over the phone for hours on a Sunday afternoon.
“I guess we both knew that the acquittal was going to happen,” I said. I don’t know why I’d hoped things would be different.”
“He’s going to win again,” my sister said. “You mark my words.”
My jaw dropped for two reasons. First, little sister is an incisive and wise black woman who’d warned me of Trump’s ascendancy four years ago. She seemed certain of her prediction and it came true. What if she was right once again? Second, I was shocked by her pessimistic tone. If we are going to beat the man, then we have to believe that we can.
“I know it, Eze,” she said. “I wish that I thought differently. But my gut tells me that he is going win a second term.”
“No. Nope,” I said. “We crushed the midterm elections in 2018. And lots of people are really angry and anxious this time. We didn’t think he could win before and slacked off. Sister, his win was a fluke. I don’t think it will happen again.”
As the coronavirus began to overwhelm America in March and April, sparking widespread fear and panic buying of toilet paper and other supplies, Donald Trump’s aggregate poll numbers began to inch higher with the passage of each distressing day before reaching the apex for his presidency: forty-six percent according to 538.com. Although still historically low when compared to other presidents at the same point in their terms, Trump’s increasing poll numbers gave me bouts of indigestion. Because I knew that Americans tend to fall in line behind their president during periods of acute crisis.
After terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center in 2001, Americans rallied behind President George W. Bush in the ensuing months — his approval was nearly universal at ninety percent. Bush became a wartime president, leveraging his enduring popularity to start an illegal war in Iraq in 2003. Then he rode the wave to secure a second term in 2004.
Donald Trump began referring to himself as the wartime president, his desire for his blind supporters to see him as someone who could face down the deadly Covid-19 disease and win was all consuming. I found his assertion to be laughable, for it was Trump who’d ignored multiple warnings from medical professionals and advisors for months before the number of coronavirus cases began to spike within our shores. When the American news media caught wind of the danger this virus posed to the entire country and began reporting on it, Trump put forth another one of his outlandish theories, insisting that the virus was a hoax being perpetrated by those dastardly democrats. The conservative media had their president’s back, flooding publications and airwaves with Trump’s conspiracy theories at first, and then insisting that the coronavirus was no worse than the common cold or flu. But when the number of cases grew to include many thousands, when stories of lungs being shredded by pneumonia and dead bodies being stacked in trucks stationed outside of nursing homes began to drown out the cacophonous noise being emitted from the conservative arm of the media, Trump had no choice but to pay attention. So the Trump Administration put together a coronavirus task force led by Vice President Mike Pence. This task force would be responsible for coordinating the response to the outbreak and providing guidance to the American people.
Bush had been slow to act before Osama Bin Laden used planes to stab the country in the heart, but rebounded to appear strong and decisive in the aftermath. Could Donald Trump do the same thing? I wondered. Could the orange conman put one over on seventy percent of the American people and push forward to an easy reelection in November?
I believe the answer to those questions is a resounding no.
The trajectory of Donald Trump’s poll numbers have not coincided with the rise in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths. He remains mired near the fortieth percentile, and the public remains soured on his response to the pandemic. Trump’s performance in this crisis represents a perfect distillation of a life replete with failures that he’s never been able use to become better, and now our country is suffering beneath his tenure as president.
Trump thought it would be a good idea to stand behind the lectern in the presidential briefing room, where before an assemblage of journalists, he would go on to ramble for hours about the coronavirus and…nothing. No one who watched the press conferences got anything constructive out of them, except for the instances when the scientists and doctors were allowed to step to the lectern and speak. The reporters in the room seemed unimpressed by Trump’s performance; and the pundits — everyone except for the reporters from Fox News — were aghast the next morning. They were throwing around words like “disappointment”, “failure”, and “incompetent”, audibly sighing and shaking their heads in shock and disillusionment.
When I read the story of how Donald Trump suggested that people inject themselves with disinfectants and light to combat the coronavirus, I decided that I would take Dave Chapelle’s advice four years after he’d given it. I would give Donald Trump a chance to prove that he was not a complete ignoramus.
As I watched the infamous press conference on my cell phone, I shook my head and laughed at the show. Trump actually turned to a horrified Dr. Birx, a leading infectious disease expert, and suggested that she look into the prospect of injecting coronavirus victims with disinfectant and UV light. What a failure. What a fool. This supposed paragon of white supremacy in the United States is a stumbling, bumbling, and overmatched fool. After I finished watching the entirety of the video, I came to a startling conclusion. Trump may singlehandedly expose the theory of white primacy for what it is, a form of mental illness. I want to witness it as it happens.
I let out a slow exhale and said, “I can watch you now.”