Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

A close up of President Donald J. Trump's notes shows where Corona was crossed out "Corona" and replaced with "Chinese" Virus as he speaks with his coronavirus task force in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic during a briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House. (Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

A close up of President Donald J. Trump's notes shows where Corona was crossed out "Corona" and replaced with "Chinese" Virus as he speaks with his coronavirus task force in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic during a briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House. (Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Beware of Trump’s China Box

Our best path out of the Trump China box is to put him in a box he can’t get out of.

Les Leopold

As Covid-19 deaths and unemployment soar, Trump’s reelection chances depend on three factors: 1) the Democrats making significant electioneering mistakes; 2) the Trump campaign finding ways to discourage Democrats from voting for Biden; and 3) a massive propaganda war against China.

We should get used to gaffs from Biden and the Democrats. They’re inevitable, but with forethought they need not be earth shattering. The bigger problem is how the Trump campaign will confuse and divide Democrats on any number of issues. There is a good reason to be discussing touchy-feely Biden these days, but no matter what facts come out, these charges will be turned into massive attacks by Trump operatives throughout the social media ecology. The Trump forces hope that progressive Democrats will be so turned off by Biden that they decide to sit it out or vote for a third-party candidate. It is hard to believe that a confessed serial assaulter like Trump could possibly be viewed as less toxic than Biden, but the attacks may have some impact. 

Negative campaigning, however, is not enough to save Trump’s sinking ship.  He needs an international crisis fomented by a non-stop verbal assault on China to escape the stain of his incompetence and regain a presidential image. Like all autocrats, Trump needs an enemy to blame for the country’s ills. Not only will he accuse China of stealing American jobs, but more importantly he will, not so subtly, accuse them of spreading the virus to the U.S. After all, it started in Wuhan, not Waco. This is already happening.

That’s crazy, right?  That’s what I thought until chatting with the long-time administrator at a noted hypertension clinic in New York. She told me point blank that “The Chinese are deliberately trying to kill us with this virus,” (thereby making my blood pressure leap even higher.) How could someone who has for decades worked with some of the finest cardiologists in the country believe that the Chinese engineered the virus and then let it loose in order to harm us and the rest of the world as well as themselves? All efforts to point out the flaws of this argument were summarily brushed aside with “Many people are saying the same thing.” I’ll bet they are as Trump’s right-wing media machine spreads thousands of different versions of this meme. 

What makes this fiction so compelling? Not only did the virus start in China, but China is a significant economic and geopolitical rival to the US. More importantly, China’s people look different enough from most Americans so that racist reflexes are easily triggered. The Chinese are a perfect target for an authoritarian who desperately needs an enemy to blame for the mess he’s made of our response to the pandemic.  Trump wants to use the blood on his hands to smear the Chinese even as his intelligence agencies tell us that Chinese scientists did not engineer the virus, let along sick it on us. 

How should Democrats respond to this racist and divisive ploy? Some will be tempted to come to the defense of China, while others will try to show they are as tough on China as Trump. But both responses allow Trump to define the terms of the debate. He would love for all of us to be talking and thinking about China and who is and who is not “soft on China.” That debate would reinforce his false narrative and divert attention from the carnage he has failed to ameliorate. Chinese Americans need to be vigorously defended against the racism and violence Trump is unleashing. But that is a civil rights issue rather than a geopolitical one. Hate crimes should always be prosecuted.

Our best path out of the Trump China box is to put him in a box he can’t get out of. There are two facts Trump can’t explain away: death and jobs. 

  1. The public needs constant reminding that Trump and his political hacks told us repeatedly there was no pandemic – that the virus would be gone by now, (“miraculously goes away.”)  As of May 2, there are already 67,000 dead, a number that Trump claimed we would never reach. That number will climb past 100,000 dead by Election Day.  If the Democrats and their allies focus on these casualties, Trump will be forced again and again to alibi his way out by saying if it weren’t for his fine work, there would be 2 million fatalities. But every time he mentions these deaths, he reinforces our terms of debate – he remains within this conceptual coffin. 

  1. Because the unemployment rate will soon be higher than during the Great Depression and because there will not be a quick rebound, Democrats must focus on the inability of Trump and his party to provide jobs and income for the millions in need. There is no easy way out of the jobs box, to be sure.  If the economy is restarted too soon, which is happening right now, the virus will spread and deaths will rise. Yet Trump is so desperate to restart the economy that he is cheering on his militias to protest against the very reopening guidelines he put forth. That incoherence indicates that he is  stuck in the unemployment box. To get out he would need gargantuan pro-worker plans like universal income and hiring millions of contact tracers to isolate the virus. Instead, his instinct always is to funnel money to his wealthy cronies in the hope of gaining political capital.  The third recapitalization bill, which gave workers unemployment benefits, turns out to have benefited 43,000 millionaires, many in the real estate business, with $1.6 billion in capital gains benefits. That payola further solidifies the walls of the job box. 

The more the Democrats can pound away on how Trump belittled the problem, acted slowly, shifted blame and refused to take command of the crisis, the more his China ploy will seem like he is running away from the problem. Democrats must lock Trump in the death/unemployment box and throw away the key.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Les Leopold

Les Leopold

Les Leopold, the director of the Labor Institute in New York is working with unions, worker centers and community organization to build a national economics educational campaign. His latest book, "Runaway Inequality: An Activist's Guide to Economic Justice" (Oct 2015), is a text for that effort.  His previous book is "The Looting of America: How Wall Street's Game of Fantasy Finance destroyed our Jobs, Pensions and Prosperity, and What We Can Do About It" (Chelsea Green/2009).

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'When We Organize, We Win': Ocasio-Cortez Joins India Walton at Rally in Buffalo

The two progressives joined striking hospital workers on the picket line at Mercy Hospital after the early voting rally.

Julia Conley ·

Fatal Film Set Shooting Followed Outcry by Union Crew Members Over Safety Protocols

"When union members walk off a set about safety concerns, maybe 'hiring scabs' isn’t the solution you think it is."

Julia Conley ·

New Whistleblower Sparks Calls to 'Crack Down on Facebook and All Big Tech Companies'

Hours after another ex-employee filed a formal complaint, reporting broke on internal documents that show the tech giant's failure to address concerns about content related to the 2020 U.S. election.

Jessica Corbett ·

'Catastrophic and Irreparable Harm' to Wolves Averted as Wisconsin Judge Cancels Hunt

"We are heartened by this rare instance of reason and democracy prevailing in state wolf policy," said one conservation expert.

Brett Wilkins ·

West Virginia Constituents Decry 'Immorality' of Joe Manchin

"West Virginia has been locked into an economy that forces workers into low-wage jobs with no hope for advancement, and after decades of this our hope is dwindling," said one West Virginian. "The cuts that Sen. Manchin has negotiated into the agenda hurt our state."

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo